Despite last weekend's snowstorm that dropped more than two feet of snow on the Rim country, the fire season is still predicted to be "above normal," according to a report by the Southwest Coordination Center - Fire Intelligence Section of the U.S. Forest Service.
"By the latter part of April, expect fire danger and fire activity potential to be above normal throughout (Arizona and New Mexico). This is due to the continued effects of La Niwinter storms having moved out, and weather patterns setting up that will bring less moisture," the report said.
This report can be found at the Southwest Area Wildland Fire Operations web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/, and is a primary tool used by fire management officers to predict the coming fire season.
"(The recent snow) is going to help us," Pine-Strawberry Fire Marshal John Varljen said Thursday. "It will help arrest the extreme dryness that we've had, and it has delayed fire season a good month."
According to the Forest Service report, the average fuel moisture for heavy, dead timber at this time of year in northern Arizona is 16 to 25 percent. With the recent snows, the fuel moisture has only reached 11 to 13 percent. Varljen said that is a key indicator that the forest is still very dry.
"Throughout the last several weeks the temperatures have risen after each storm and that pushes the fire dangers back up to high and very high," he said.
"We had a hell of a dry winter and we don't need to let our guard down. My gut feeling is that the fire danger will go into the high or very high (range) in the later part of this month."