Is 2022 On Its Way to the Worst Fire Season in Idaho?
Between the months of November and May, Idaho typically sees about 75% of its annual precipitation.
However, our snowfall this season has been below average, as the Almanac predicted.
Boise received 4.6 inches of snow in January, which is below the average of 6.9 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
Other areas in Idaho (like McCall) have also gotten significantly lower amounts than usual.
So in lieu of a particularly dry winter, this is alarming for a number of reasons.
The Hazard and Climate Resilience Institute (HCRI) at Boise State explains why having a dry winter is so detrimental: Idaho is already known for its dry summers. But dry summers that follow dry winters may cause extreme drought.
“Low winter precipitation leads to reduced mountain snowpack, which results in lower streamflows during spring and summer, decreased reservoir storage, and decreased water supply through the warm and dry season.” - HCRI
As the climate continues to get warmer, this could lead to dire consequences for our farmers, our ecosystem and our state as a whole. Furthermore, increased drought may lead to more intense fire seasons.
Last year, Idaho was ranked the second in the nation for the highest wildfire risk, with Montana coming in at first.
We were projected to have the worst fire season we've ever seen last year, and this year, the precipitation levels are even lower.
While it's impossible to know for sure what this dry winter will mean, it certainly doesn't look good.
We're hopeful for more precipitation as the months go on, but we're scared that this may mean a higher frequency of devastating fires.