OSU researchers discuss wildfire outlook heading into 2023 fire season

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State presenting an overview of what the 2023 wildfire season may look like.

“July and August are forecasted to be a little warmer than normal and so the fuel and warmth toward the end of the fire season, I think that’s what has most forecasters worried at this point,” OSU professor in the College of Forestry John Bailey said.

Despite record snow packs across the state, the OSU researchers agree that fire season could last longer this year and start later as well.

Although they say there aren’t any specific concerns for Southern Oregon, state climatologist and professor Larry O‘Neill said the larger snow packs will have an affect on our region.

“Many of the snow tell sites in the southern Oregon Cascades are projected to melt a little later than normal,” O’Neill said. “That’s basically a function of how many snow there was this year. So that tends to push back the start of fire season a little bit.”

As fire season rapidly approaches, it’s only a matter of time before the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire danger level goes up.

“We start fire season June 1st at the very latest every year just because we live in such a fire prone environment,” ODF Southwest spokesperson Natalie Weber said in April. “So fire season won’t start later than June 1st.”

ODF Southwest said in the last several years, fire season began much earlier, starting in May.

O’Neill said the biggest difference going into this fire season compared to last year is the precipitation.

He said the its warmer and dryer now, than it was after record spring rain in 2022.

That could have an affect on how this fire season goes.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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