Snow Means Shorter Wildfire Season

By KBJR News 1

April 15, 2013 Updated Apr 15, 2013 at 10:36 PM CDT

Grand Rapids, MN (NNCNOW.com) - You might be sick of the snow and all the shoveling that comes with it, but there is a silver lining to the white stuff. The longer the snow sits on the ground, the shorter our wildfire season will be.

"The fire season that we do have will likely be shorter in duration than we thought it might have been even a month ago," said Ron Stoffel of the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.

Shorter because wildfire season starts after the snow melts, which will come later this year. The season slows when the green–up period for new vegetation begins. That period could come earlier because of all the moisture at the top of the ground.

"This is heavy, wet snow. It will mat the grass down real well," said Stoffel.

Another aspect of the wildfire season is the ongoing drought. All the snow helps with that, but not as much as you might think.

"The actual amount of precipitation is relatively small. It will largely end up in the lake eventually," said Large Lakes Observatory Director, Steve Colman.

Colman says every foot of snow we get only equals about an inch of rain. So to make a dent in the drought we'd need a lot more.

But as far as wildfires go, the more snow, the more likely we'll have a below average season.

"We likely will be [below average] for the spring," said Stoffel.

Stoffel says that at this time last year we had already had about 400 wildfires.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.