Fires have been burning all around Southeastern Idaho for the last several months and it appears that the smoke might not be clearing as soon as many would hope.
Generally, by this time of year precipitation and lower relative humidity have reduced fire risks, but this year we’re not seeing that.
“We are looking at, at least for the next 30 days, going through October, of above normal temperatures, and below normal precipitation,” Mike Huston of the National Weather Service explained. “So that would probably extend our fire season.”
It’s usually at this point in the year that things start heading in the other direction.
“As we move into the fall months here, we see a shorter burning window,” Huston said. “Really, in a sense, instead of having four to six hours of a heightened burning window, now you’re down to a couple of hours.”
Now, both meteorologists and firefighters are hoping for a “season-ending event,” generally a low-pressure system with a lot of precipitation that would bring the fire season to a halt, even though there isn’t one on the horizon.
In the past few days, temperatures have dropped slightly, something Pocatello Fire Chief David Gates said is helping.
“Clearly the cooler temperatures are helping, but we still continue to see some really dry conditions…obviously the fuels are really dry, we’ve had no moisture up in the hills,” Gates said. “I can’t really remember the last time we had a good rain storm.”
With these “red flag warnings” still out there, Gates keeps extra members on staff.
“The biggest saving factor in a wildland fire is getting to it quickly when it’s small,” Gates said. “So we try to forward place resources in order to get to that fire quickly and get it while it’s small before it has a chance to get ahead of steam.”
Radar shows there is a chance a system off the coast of Mexico moves up into our region over the next week, but as weather moves quite quickly this time of year, predicting something nearly seven days out doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen.