Before the fire

Fire cycle

NOAA plays a major role in helping federal, state, local and tribal partners prepare for upcoming fire seasons by providing seasonal outlooks and forecast products which characterize anticipated moisture and fuel conditions that enhance the risk of fires. 

El Niño and La Niña, collectively referred to as ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation), are the warm and cool phases of the tropical Pacific Ocean that significantly influence precipitation patterns across the western United States during the critical winter and spring wet seasons. NOAA’s ENSO Outlooks help fire managers anticipate regional fuel conditions to predict regions of high risk and pre-position firefighting assets and resources where they will be most needed.

Dry, hot, and windy weather that often accompanies drought dries out woody material, grasses and other fuels, increasing the risk that any fire start will grow into a significant wildfire. NOAA experts contribute to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Weekly Drought Monitor offsite link. NOAA’s maintains a dashboard which shows up-to-date fire weather conditions, outlooks and related information.

NOAA's National Weather Service maintains a wildfire weather safety page with valuable information on how to stay alert and prepared to respond to a wildfire threat. Check for the latest Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings where fire danger is most immediate. Air Quality Alerts, issued in part for unhealthy levels of smoke, are generated by local authorities and relayed by local NWS offices.

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Fire cycle