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.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a past news conference. (Screenshot courtesy of TVW)
Masks required at big outdoor events; vaccine mandates expanded

Governor’s mask order takes effect Sept. 13.

This is a screenshot that shows the pursuit of a stolen vehicle Sept. 1 on Interstate 5 in King County.
VIDEO: Auburn police let suspected vehicle thief go, citing new laws

State laws passed earlier this spring require police to have probable cause to engage in a pursuit.

Juanita High School student Ria Mahon. Courtesy photo
Student brings awareness to menstrual health among Puget Sound’s homeless

When Ria Mohan, a junior of Juanita High School in Kirkland, had… Continue reading

Matt Axe, the Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Coordinator with the King Conservation District, speaks to homeowner Anita Kissee-Wilder about fire reduction strategies at her home in North Bend on Aug. 24. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record.
King County braces for more wildfires in rural areas

Firefighters have already responded to a number of large fires.

t
New data dashboard tracks COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated, vaccinated people

Information compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County

This 2019 security footage at the Cenex gas station in Black Diamond shows Anthony Chilcott on his phone before entering, and driving off with, Carl Sanders’ Ford Raptor and Monkey, his poodle, in the front seat. Courtesy photo
Oversight office releases scathing report on King County Sheriff’s Office

Report analyzes 2019 killing of Anthony Chilcott by deputies.

Close-up hand using phone in night time on street. File photo
King County Council steps closer to establishing hate crime hotline

The program is aimed at reducing the number of unreported hate crimes.

A Link light rail train travels underneath the University of Washington during testing to open the new line to Northgate. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Northgate Link light rail testing moves into final stages

Three new north Seattle stations opening Oct. 2

Gov. Jay Inslee (left) bumps elbows with Auburn Vaccine Clinic staff member Mary Johnson (right) on June 22, 2021. Inslee visited the clinic to promote vaccinations in lower King County. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
COVID-19 surge puts strain on local hospitals

Delta is the predominate strain in Washington.

C-17 at Joint Base Lewis McChord airstrip. (Photo courtesy of United States Military)
King County Councilman calls for plan to help Afghan refugees settle here

Washington state expects roughly 6,000 refugees to come from Afghanistan.