Fire Forecast Expected to be Moderate

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A red flag warning is in effect until Wednesday night throughout Southcentral Alaska – for Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the Western Kenai Peninsula. That means fire conditions are critical with low humidity and high winds.

But overall, wildfire officials don’t expect anything extreme this season. Fire Weather program Manager at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, Heidi Starder says La Nina, the cooling of South Pacific waters that’s been affecting Alaska weather, figures into the fire forecast.

That’s about normal for Alaska. Last year 1.2 million acres went up, while 2.9 million burned in 2009. Strader says this summer is expected to be on the warm side, but that should be moderated by normal rainfall. She says long range fire forecasting relies on comparison with years with similar trends, and there’s always potential for surprise.

Strader says ground factors like beetle kill on the Kenai, and drought last fall in Upper Yukon and Yukon Flats could contribute to increased early fire potential at those locations.

Download Audio (MP3)