Click play to listen to the 2022 Wildfire Forecast and Air Quality Impact article.
Wildfires can have devastating impacts on human life, displacing people from their homes and putting property at risk.
Beyond the immediate path of wildfires, smoke and ash can travel for hundreds of miles and impact air quality for people in surrounding areas for days or weeks.
Unfortunately, wildfires are expected to increase this year and for the foreseeable future, even reaching areas of the United States that in recent history were not at great risk.
Typically, June, July, and August experience the most wildfire activity. Let’s see what the current forecast tells us about wildfires for the 2022 summer season.
Wildfires in the United States
As of late June 2022, about 3,360,037 acres of land in the United States had burned from wildfires. This far exceeds the 10-year average of 1,332,551 acres burned over the same time period.
The primary causes of this intense wildfire activity are drought, lack of precipitation, and extreme temperatures. These factors set the stage for variable weather conditions in any given area to determine if wildfires will begin and how large they become.
Forecasting wildfires can be tricky because they’re so dependent on local weather conditions in addition to human activity. But it’s important to have an understanding of the risk level and potential impacts.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) creates a forecast each year as part of its Predictive Services report. So far in 2022, the U.S. is 110% above average for burned acreage, with much of the activity occurring in the west and southwest areas of the country.
Here’s a look at the wildfire forecast for the upcoming months:
July 2022 Wildfire Forecast via NIFC Predictive Services
August 2022 Wildfire Forecast via NIFC Predictive Services
September 2022 Wildfire Forecast via NIFC Predictive Services
The Air Impact of Wildfires
The large red areas indicate an above-average potential for wildfires. Clearly, many areas of the country are at risk of both direct and indirect damage from wildfires this year.
To prepare for the impact of wildfires, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest sealing up windows, and using a portable air purifier or installing high-efficiency air filters.
Remember that, even after the fire ends, smoke can stay in the air for several days, so it’s important to take precautions until your outdoor air quality is deemed healthy. Ash will also linger and can be kicked up during the cleaning process, so wear a mask or other protection while cleaning surfaces indoors and outdoors.
Wildfires are impossible to avoid, so it’s essential to stay aware of the forecasts and prepare for all possibilities as we head into the hottest part of the year. Prioritize keeping yourself and your family safe, and be aware of local guidelines during times of emergency.