Montana Might Entirely Burn To The Ground This Year
Montana's lack of snowfall and our dangerously low snowpack levels are becoming the stuff of fire season nightmares. As the winter weeks go by, our 'percentages of normal' keep ticking lower - and that's not good news for this summer.
Hell, it's not good news for this spring. It's already put a major dent in Montana's normally famous ski season. Some ski hills had significant delays in their opening dates, and many are not able to open all of their terrain even now.
According to the Western Fire Chiefs Association (wfca.com), "The Montana fire season begins in May and runs until October. Peak fire season typically occurs in mid-July and lasts for 12 weeks."
Obviously, Montana's 'fire season' dates change from year to year, but this winter of 2023/2024 is not shaping up in any sort of positive way. Take a look at the current SNOTEL readings as of January 31st, 2024:
In 2017, about 2,500 wildfires torched 1.3 million acres of Montana land. Though the year was predicted to bring a "below-average fire season," severe flash droughts made for the perfect conditions for wildfire spreading. According to the Montana DNRC's end-of-year fire report, 46% were caused by lightning strikes and 53% by humans.
In 2012 and 2013, large wildfires of more than 1,000 acres erupted in Montana during the month of January. Although these fires were very unusual, it proves that it CAN happen. In 1995, one wildfire of more than 1,000 acres began in March. You can see a visual guide to Montana wildfire dates below.
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