The 2012 fire season is really just starting to get into gear. While fires do occur at any time of the year, the most volatile time is in the summer and early fall months when the fuel becomes the driest. This is especially true in the Western states.
So far this year, it's been a rather slow start despite some of the hype from the National News Media. That being said there is one huge fire still burning in New Mexico. The Whitewater-Baldy fire has consumed over 263 acres and is only 30 percent contained. This is one of 22 active, large fires with two fires being contained in the last 24 hours.
Here are some statistics to show why I have said that this has been a rather slow start to the season.
So far in 2012, there has been 22,976 fires burning 838,853 acres.
In 2011 to date, there was 29,857 fires burning a much larger 3,450,882 acres.
The 10-year average to date is 32,576 fires burning 1,422,752 acres.
Therefore, 2012 has been well below the 10-year average for the number of fires and acres burned and far below the number of acres burned to date last year. Though interesting, we are in the infancy of the meat of the fire season. A lot can change over the next several month before the fire season peaks late summer and early fall.
These is the possibility that another surge of tropical moisture could move into Arizona and Southern California by the middle of next week.
I still believe the greatest amount of rain, at least partially relating to Norbert, occurs from southeast California to Arizona
The effects on Southern California are very much in question.
With low wind shear and warm water in its path for a while longer, it is likely that Norbert intensifies into at least a Category 2 storm.
For much of the last week the monsoon moisture flow into the Southwest has been completely shut down by dry westerly winds. This is about to change.
A big pattern change is underway, one that will completely shut down any chance of showers and thunderstorms for an extended time period.