The National Interagency Fire Center published the wildfire outlook for the period of April 2024 through July 2024. This outlook is a synthesis of predictions from both Geographic Area Predictive Services units and the National Predictive Services and is a critical resource for wildland fire management. Several key factors influence the wildfire outlook, including weather patterns, fuel moisture levels, and long-term climate forecasts. The full wildfire outlook can be located here.

Overview of Fire Activity in March 2024

Fire activity was active at the beginning of March for the Southern, Eastern, and Rocky Mountain Areas, but subsided some at the end of the month except for the Southern Area. The Eastern and Southern geographic areas remained at preparedness Level 2 and 3 (on a scale of 1-5), respectively, at the end of the month. Significant fires continued to emerge at times across the Upper Midwest and southern/central Plains the first half of the month, but timely precipitation mid-month resulted in a decrease in activity, at least temporarily. However, fire activity increased in the central Appalachians during the latter half of March, with several large fires in West Virginia and Virginia. Year-to-date annual acres burned for the US is well above the 10-year average at 350% of normal but with a below average number of fires, near 75%.

Drought Conditions and Improvements

Drought improved in portions of Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin but worsened across portions of southeast Missouri. Drought also improved across portions of the Cascades and eastern North Carolina. However, drought persisted across much of the northern Rockies, with drought development across northeast Minnesota. California remains drought free, but drought persists on the Big Island of Hawai’i with drought development on the lee sides on the rest of the Hawai’ian Islands. Drought persists across portions of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands but has continued to improve the past month. Drought is forecast to persist across much of New Mexico into West Texas, with drought development across the Texas High Plains. Drought improvement is forecast across Arizona, the Mid-Mississippi Valley, central Plains, and northern Wyoming. Drought is forecast to develop across portions of northeast Minnesota and northwest North Dakota as well as northern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Drought Outlook Published 31 March 2024

Wildfire Outlook for Spring 2024

Looking ahead to Spring 2024, much of the Southern Area is forecast to have below normal significant fire potential from southeast Texas to the Southeast Coast in April, although portions of the Florida Peninsula will have normal potential. Above normal significant fire potential is forecast for portions of the central and southern High Plains in April, as well as eastern South Dakota and the Upper Midwest. These areas will return to normal potential in May, but potential will increase to above normal in the lower elevations of the Southwest into West Texas in May and June, which will persist into July for southern New Mexico. Above normal potential is forecast for portions of the northern Great Basin in July, and the lee sides of Hawai’i May through July. Portions of central and southern California will have below normal potential in May expanding to include the Sierra, Coast Ranges, Bay Area, and Transverse and Peninsular Ranges in June. Below normal potential will continue in the Sierra, southern California, and interior central coast of California for July.

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