"Researchers Project Intense Fire Season in the West"

"It will be hot, dry and a bad fire year for much of the West, Forest Service researchers are predicting.

Researchers have completed an updated national drought and fire forecast for the next six months saying that 3.66 million acres are expected to burn. That is about average nationally, but there is an 'unusual' concentration of activity in the West, they said.

Higher-than-normal fire levels are expected in most of Texas, the Southwest, California and the Pacific Northwest this year compared to a base period of 1971 to 2000, they said, with huge fires projected for much of Northern California and the Sierra Nevada range.

By far the worst drought conditions, referred to as 'extremely dry,' are found in California, western Oregon and Washington, pockets of North Carolina and northern Wisconsin. But major fires are not anticipated in every dry place, and some areas with normal moisture are at high risk of tens of thousands of acres burning, especially northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico, they said."

Noelle Straub reports for Greenwire in the New York Times July 27, 2009.

Source: Greenwire, 07/28/2009