TUCSON, Ariz. - Dry weather is persisting in Southeast Arizona and as a consequence, pushing the Tucson area to peak wildfire season. Fire and weather experts are now concerned the dry conditions are likely to stay until monsoon.
According to the National Weather Service, the current conditions are only for the peak of wildfire season, which is several weeks away. National Weather Service Meteorologist Gary Zell says although we got above normal rain in February, conditions have been extremely dry since then. Tucson's rainfall deficit since then is .79 inches, which is far below normal, he said. Additionally, our fuels are near-record dryness, and we are now approaching some higher levels of fire danger.
The concern this time around is that dry conditions are likely to continue for much of the coming months until the monsoon arrives. "This typically happens in late May or beginning of July, when the monsoon sets and this year it's already occurring the last week of April," he explained.
This is just the beginning of wildfire season, so we have a couple of more months to go with the dangerous conditions, Zell added. Wildfire experts advise being extra cautious; if a fire starts with the dry fuels, it will be much harder to contain. More than 80% of wildfires in Arizona are human-caused.