Thanks to Strong Snowpack and Spring Rain Below Average Wildfire Season Expected in Colorado this Summer

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A wildfire near Nederland, CO last year. Credit: Denver Post

In its annual spring forecast published yesterday, the Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control say Colorado could have a slightly below average wildfire season this year thanks to a strong snowpack and regular spring rain and snow.

Statewide, the mountain snowpack was well above average Tuesday, ranging from 106% in the North Platte River basin in northern Colorado to 176% in southwest Colorado. The U.S. Drought Monitor says less than 1% of Colorado is in a drought.

The Colorado projection echoes the national summertime outlook released May 1 by the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho. The center said most of the country, including Colorado, can expect a normal fire season, but the West Coast could be in for another bad year.

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Fire 416 in southern Colorado. Credit: Denver Post

The wildfire season last year was considered one of the worst on record. There were 18 wildfire incidents that qualified for state responsibility. The price tag for those fires was more than $40 million.

Gov. Jared Polis stressed the fact that just because there is a lower risk for wildfires, doesn’t mean the events won’t happen. He had an urgent message for homeowners on Tuesday morning.

“While the risk of a major fire event might be lower this year, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a major fire event or loss of life. So people should be wary, particularly an important message to private landholders is do the mitigation on your property,” said Polis.

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