A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last summer in north-central Washington. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last summer in north-central Washington. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo

Washington can expect a warmer, drier summer – and more wildfires

The threat of wildfires in much of Washington state is expected to be above average this summer as hot and dry conditions are predicted through September.

This May was warm and dry across much of the Pacific Northwest, with the exception of some areas of the Cascades and in Western Washington. Most of Eastern Washington and Southwest Oregon saw less than 10% of their average precipitation for the month, according to a fire outlook report by the Predictive Services of the National Interagency Fire Center.

The outlook for June shows it will be likely warmer and drier across Washington and Oregon in June, except for the western portions of each state running from the Olympic Peninsula through Western Oregon.

Across Washington state, there has already been a significant number of fires in 2021, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. From the beginning of the year until June 1, there were 615 wildfires the department responded to, which burned more than 1,384 acres. Nearly 500 of these fires were in Eastern Washington, and wildfires started by people burning debris were the most common ignition source.

Of these fires, 410 were on land managed by the Department of Natural Resources. To date, this year has the seen the highest number of fires and acres burned over the last 10 years between Jan. 1 and June 1.

Mountain snowmelt is also underway. While most of Washington’s mountains and Mt. Hood in Oregon have above normal snowpack, Oregon’s basins have less than half of what they normally do. Drought conditions are expected to get worse through June. At least 72% of Oregon is abnormally dry, with a quarter already in extreme drought and small portions in exceptional drought.

The condition is better in Washington, but 87% of the state is abnormally dry, and 21% is in severe drought. The driest area in the region is the Columbia Basin, where grasses have finished growing and will begin to dry out.

Much of California and states in the Southwest are also experiencing significant drought.

As climate change continues to impact Puget Sound, summers are expected to keep getting warmer and drier, impacting snowpack and water flow in rivers. At the same time, winters will likely become more rainy and less precipitation will fall as snow in the mountains, further reducing snowpack.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Photo of Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson after he shot and killed Jesse Sarey on May 31, 2019. Courtesy photo
Auburn Police officer’s violent history could be used against him in court

Judge Nicole Gaines Phelps hasn’t yet decided whether it will be allowed in the trial.

Photo by Ray Miller-Still
One of the performers carries Elma Gust, 106, during the Exotic Legends show.
Living Court ladies in Enumclaw live it up with raunchy revue

‘I felt young again,’ one woman said

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Sound Transit Board approves Julie Timm as new CEO at $375,000 per year

She replaces Peter Rogoff who left in May after board voted to replace him

t
Statewide task force to tackle organized retail crime rings

Group brings law enforcement, prosecutors, retailers together to combat growing problem

Photo of Auburn Police officer Jeffrey Nelson’s tattoos. A King County Superior Court Judge decided many of Nelson’s tattoos contained wording or imaging that would prejudice potential jurors. An additional 40 images have to be redacted prior to being released. (Courtesy photo)
Judge orders redactions of photos of Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson’s tattoos

Release of 40 photos would be inflammatory and likely influence potential jurors, according to judge.

tsr
George Weyerhaeuser Sr. dies at 95

Great-grandson of the company’s founder Frederick Weyerhaeuser, died on June 11.

Washington State Capitol Building. File photo
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

t
Sound Transit committee recommends Julie Timm as next CEO

She is CEO of Greater Richmond Transit Company in Virginia