Forecasters: Arizona faces above-normal wildfire threats

Droughts are continuing across Arizona with a likelihood of warm and dry conditions in coming months even after a recent storm dropped heavy snow across much of the state’s high country, a 2021 wildfire season outlook says.

Observations indicate nearly all of the state is covered by severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the outlook released Feb. 4 by the National Weather Service service’s Flagstaff office.

Conditions and indicators add up to above-normal fire threats by April at lower elevations from southeastern Arizona to Yavapai County and similar threats spreading north along the Mogollon Rim by May, the forecasters said.

Currently, "odds are tilted in favor of warmer and drier than average conditions" for February through April, forecasters wrote. "However, there still could be a few episodes of high winds, unsettled weather, and high-elevation snowfall."

The extended outlook for May through June "favors above-normal temperatures, and equal chances of above, near, and below normal precipitation across Arizona," the forecaster added.

MORE: Arizona’s 2020 wildfire season among worst in past decade

With below-normal precipitation recorded so far this winter, drought conditions in Arizona worsened between early 2020 and early 2021, leaving the entire state in drought, compared with 30% at this time last year, the forecasters said.

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