Casey McCoy, with the Nebraska Forest Service, says he puts little stock in long-range forecasts and says your odds of predicting a wildfire season would be just as good as flipping a coin.
“We could have a very, very dry summer and especially out in the western part of the state, if it’s really dry out there, the prime cause of fires out there would be lightning strikes in the summertime,” McCoy says. “We could have very dry conditions and not get the lightning storms, not get the dry thunderstorms and they may not have anything.”
The year ahead “has the potential” to be a very bad one for brushfires, he says, based on how 2014 started out.
McCoy says, “I’m also on a volunteer fire department and my fire department had more wildfire runs in January than we had in all of 2013.”
Some are already making comparisons of conditions this year to 2012, the worst fire year on record for Nebraska. He’s hoping they’re wrong and there’s not a repeat, but it could still go either way.
“In the places where we still have tall-standing dead grass, we could still have another month or two of busy fire season here,” McCoy says. “Typically, the way it works is, it transitions from the eastern part of the state in the spring to the western and north-central parts of the state in the summertime and then it comes back down here in the fall.”
In 2012, there were almost a half-million acres burned, 65 structures lost and about 12-million dollars in fire suppression costs.