Posted: Apr 12, 2012 7:02 PM
TUCSON - After a record breaking wildfire season in 2011 it seems the southwest is heading for another active year.
Every month the Southwest Coordination Center and National Interagency Fire Center issue a fire potential outlook. The forecast is aimed at warning the wildfire fighting community what precautions they need to take and where to allocate certain resources.
For April a normal fire potential is forecast for the southwest portion of the United States. That includes the expectation that 56,000 acres will burn and as we go into the summer months particularly May through July the fire potential increases to above normal. That means there is a very good probability extra resources will be needed to fight fires.
These agencies not only look at rainfall amounts and temperature outlooks to make their assessment but also what fuels in the area look like.
Gregg Garfin, a Climatologist at the University of Arizona, has worked to create potential fire outlooks and sheds some light on what some of the experts focus on.
"It's based on wind and slope or topography of an area and then the fuel moisture of everything from grasses to big heavy dead logs and limbs," said Garfin. "That's one of the favorite measures that's used by the SWCC. It gives an integrated picture of fuels and climate."
Firefighters suggest you create a defensible space around your home and use fire wise safety practices as you head outdoors over the dry summer months.
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