An extended fire season is unfolding for the Northwest.
AccuWeather.com will release its full Winter 2012-2013 Forecast to the general public during the first week of October, but the early indications are that below-normal precipitation will continue through the winter.
The normally dry weather pattern now will be exploited by a developing split in the storm track and further dryness over the fall and winter.
According to Long Range Weather Expert Paul Pastelok, "A split storm track seems likely moving through the winter with storms dropping southward along or east of the Continental Divide in Canada and storms rolling in from the Pacific into the Southwest United States."
Such a setup would leave areas west of the Divide from central British Columbia to northernmost California in a zone with little precipitation, above-normal temperatures and bouts of wind.
"There would be occasional pushes of cool air and a few storms farther south, but probably much less than average for the fall and winter," Pastelok said.
Wildfires are a way of life in the West during the late summer and fall.
According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "The brush, which has been baking all summer, becomes extremely dry by September. Throw in the dry air masses which become more common during the autumn, along with increasing winds and you have the potential for a large number of fires."
The pine bark beetle has killed a significant number of trees. The dead trees are an additional fuel for the fires.
According to Canada Weather Expert Brett Anderson, "There has been an uptick of large fires in southern British Columbia in recent weeks in response to the building dryness."
A large ridge of high pressure, above normal temperatures and very dry air will continue to fuel the flames.
The pattern may be a sign of things to come not only in the short term, but for months.
If this is the case, little rain, warmth and wind will cause big problems for firefighters well through the autumn and into the winter.
A swath of snow and wintry mix with slippery travel will develop from St. Louis to Albany, N.Y., prior to the weekend.
Plunging temperatures will threaten California agriculture with a frost and freeze this week.
A swath of ice and a wintry mix later this week threatens to slow travel and cut power from parts of Texas to Kentucky.
A storm system interacting with cold air in the West will lead to low snow levels in Oregon and California.
As cold air blasts into the West and spreads into the Central states, warmth will build in the East, including the Harrisburg, Pa., area much of this week.
As cold air blasts into the West and spreads into the Central states, warmth will build in the East, bringing above-average temperatures to the Boston area this week.
North Central US (1877-78)
The year without a winter...for example St. Paul was +14.1 degrees in December, +10.5 degrees in Jan., +16.3 in Feb. and +16.2 degrees in March (these are all departures from normal).
New Jersey (1927)
Heavy sleet storm left 1-4" in parts of the state.
Duluth, MN (1950)
Storm starting today set two records, max. 24 hour snowfall 25.4"; max. single storm total 35.2" (5th-8th).