Just over two weeks ago, a snowstorm as raging across much of Upper Michigan. Now, the snow is gone and wildfire season is here.
Spring is the season for wildfires in Upper Michigan. Once the snow melts, the dead vegetation on the forest floor can become fuel for fires. Fortunately, springs have been wet in our area over the last ten years, so the danger has been minimal.
The prior five springs were dry and led to two fires of note. On May 20,2009, warm windy and dry conditions, plus a sparking power line, set off a fire in the Black River Falls area southwest of Ishpeming. The fire quickly swept through 800 acres and destroyed 33 structures, including 21 homes.
On May 23, 2012, a lightning strike set off a wildfire near Duck Lake in Luce County. The fire eventually burned through 21,000 acres along with numerous homes, camps, as well as a motel and store.
Back to the present, we are roughly halfway through May, and precipitation is well above average; however, this is a bit misleading. The month started with a snowstorm that brought 3.84 inches of precipitation in two days– exceeding the average for the entire month!
Since then, rainfall has been minimal. In fact, there’s been no measurable precipitation in ten days. The dry weather has elevated the fire danger across the U.P. and northern Wisconsin. Fortunately, it appears that a good share of the Upper Peninsula will get a decent rain as a low drops in from the northwest and passes through Thursday and Friday.