Looking Forward: The 2024 Wildfire Season Predictions

2024 Wildfire Season Predictions

The 2024 Wildfire Season is predicted to be normal according to CAL FIRE and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). What does that mean for wildfire preparedness?

What is a “normal” fire season?

The length of fire season depends largely on weather, particularly rainfall and snow in the winter months. In the summer and fall months, wind and high temperatures can create extreme fire conditions that extend fire season into the late fall season especially if there’s drought.

Typically, in Northern California, fire season peaks in June or July and continues until late October. Fire season ends with the first heavy rainfall across the state. In years past, low winter rainfall and warm spring temperatures created low vegetation moisture levels and increased dead vegetation. Dry, hot, and windy conditions mean higher fire activity earlier in the season.

This year, CAL FIRE and the NIFC’s Predictive Services forecast normal fire activity in Northern California. Thanks to a wet rainy season, snowpack levels are only slightly below normal levels. Higher snowpack levels mean it will take longer for the snow to melt which ensures that vegetation will stay green longer into the summer season.

2024: A Normal Fire Season

In addition to precipitation levels, wind plays a large factor in fire activity. Previously, some of California’s largest fires have been pushed by high, warm winds. These strong northeasterly winds move over the Sierras and warm up as they pass over the Central and Northern Sacramento valley and continue over the Coastal Range. The wind outlook for late spring is expected to be near to below normal. However, these gusty and dry offshore winds are expected to be present in early summer.

To read the NIFC’s Monthly Seasonal Outlook from April to June, visit: https://www.nifc.gov/nicc-files/predictive/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf

How to Prepare for this Fire Season

Although this fire season is forecasted to have “normal” fire events, wildfire preparedness is still vital. Here are a few suggested steps to prepare for this fire season:

  1. Sign up for Yolo Alerts to receive alerts about evacuations, weather events, public safety shutoffs, road closures, and more.
    • Yolo Alerts is the county’s emergency notification system that delivers alerts straight to your phone or email. To be alerted, you must register by visiting www.yolo-alert.org and creating an account.
  2. Create or review your evacuation plan.
    • An evacuation plan outlines several escape routes, meeting points, arrangements for animals, and a communication plan. When building your evacuation plan, keep in mind the 6 P’s of Evacuation Planning:
      • People and pets
      • Papers, phone numbers and important documents
      • Prescriptions and eyeglasses
      • Pictures and irreplaceable items
      • Personal computers (or back up drives)
      • Plastic (credit cards) and cash
  3. Prepare go-bags for every family member including pets.
  4. Prepare for potential public safety power shutoffs.
    • Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) happen during extreme weather or wildfire conditions (generally on red flag days). These shutoffs are intended to prevent electric systems from becoming a source of ignition for wildfires.
    • To prepare for a public safety power shut off, plan to be without electricity for an extended amount of time. Invest in backup batteries to charge electronics or safe backup power sources such as a generator. Purchase coolers and ice for perishable items or medications in your refrigerator. If you have an electronic medical device, make sure your energy company is aware of your medical device.
  5. Prepare your property’s defensible space.
    • Defensible space is your home’s first line of defense against a wildfire. To create defensible space, make sure there is vertical and horizontal separation between trees, shrubs, and plants. Trim any ladder fuels on your property and clear the first five feet out from your home of any flammable materials or vegetation.
    • To learn more, visit our website’s Home Hardening and Defensible Space page at: https://yolofiresafe.org/get-prepared/home-hardening/

Yolo County Fire Safe Council Can Help

The Yolo County Fire Safe Council currently operates two free wildfire preparedness programs for folks living in the high fire areas of the county. To qualify, residents must live in the western portion of Yolo County, which includes communities west of Winters and Esparto and throughout the Capay Valley.

The Neighborhood Chipper Program provides free debris chipping to folks who prepare their defensible space and perform fuels management. To learn more about the Neighborhood Chipper Program, visit our webpage.

The Reflective Address Sign Program provides free, high quality reflective address signs that properly mark a property for emergency officials to easily find it regardless of visibility conditions. To learn more about the Reflective Address Sign Program, visit our webpage.