July -October 2019 HIGHLIGHTS
-Warmer and drier than average through October.
-Weak El Niño continuing through the fall.
-Above average fine fuel crop, mostly cured below 4500 ft in July, and below 6000 ft in August.
-Above normal brush growth. Live fuel moisture above normal, dropping to below normal by late July below 6000 ft.
-Below normal amount of summer lightning due to frequent SW-W flow.
-Above Normal Significant Fire Potential at lower elevations with mostly cured fine fuels in July, spreading to most areas below 6000 ft in August and September and west of the Cascade-Sierra crest in October.
-Above normal snow pack to finish melting off in July. Fire activity remaining fairly quiet at elevations above 6000 ft
The annual fuel loading of the grass crop is well above normal for a fourth consecutive year, and is mostly cured at elevations below 3000 ft inland from the coast. Live fuel moisture is above normal in most areas and at most elevations. Live fuel moisture values peaked well above normal due to the wet rainy season, but values in most areas are now past their peak. Dead fuel moisture showed a considerable drop in June to near the daily average due to the warm and dry weather, and will likely drop to below average in the coming weeks as the warmer and drier than average conditions continue. Drought conditions currently do not exist in California, but may begin to spread during the early fall if the dry outlook verifies. Middle elevations (3000-6000 ft) will see enough curing of fine fuels by late July or early August to have above normal significant fire potential. Other fuels issues that will contribute to above normal significant fire potential this fire season include the following: A rare heavy snow event in the northern Sacramento Valley has led to lots of dead and down trees and limbs and an increase in tree mortality in the past year.
The 4-month Predictive Service outlook calls for warmer and drier than normal conditions in the North Ops region through October The high elevation snow pack will finish melting off by mid July in most locations below 8000 ft, but fuels and soils above 6000 ft will likely remain moist through the end of the month. Little to no significant fire activity is expected in July at elevations above 6000′, and fire activity there will likely be on the quiet side of the normal range in Aug-Oct. Lower elevations (below 3000′) will see increasing grass fire occurrence in July, and the potential of fires there growing to large sizes is Above Normal. Middle elevations (3000-6000 ft) will gradually dry out a normal to slightly slower than normal rate, reaching above normal significant fire potential in many areas by late July or August. El Niño patterns during summer months tend to correlate with a prevailing SW-W flow aloft, leading to fewer monsoon surges into the North Ops region, and therefore, less lightning occurrence than usual. Due to the moist conditions, any lightning strikes at upper elevations in July will not be as likely to produce large fires, compared to 2018 when the snow pack was below normal. By August most areas below 6000 ft have Above Normal Significant Fire Potential, and this will continue in September. In October areas east of the Cascade-Sierra crest drop back to Normal while most areas west of the crest below 6000 ft remain Above Normal.