While temperatures this weekend in the state may be 20 degrees above
With record-setting wildfire activity early in the Alaskan fire season and a heat wave looming, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center on Thursday moved to level five of wildland fire planning, the highest. Currently, there are many large fires that require incident management teams in several regions simultaneously. PL5 status means that most initial and extended attack firefighting resources are committed to new and existing fires. Nationally, the PL is 2, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center, but each geographic region defines its area based on local conditions.
There are currently 160 fires in Alaska, with 17 operating. With hot dry weather forecast, lightning, and red flag warnings, the fire risk is very high. Additionally, fire smoke is at health advisory levels in parts of the state.
More than 1,646,895 acres have been burned so far this season. Since mid-June, cumulative burned acres to date have been hovering at record levels or higher. As of June 29, the only year more acres have been burned so far is 2015. The average total burning each year in Alaska from 1992 through 2021 was 1,192,909 acres.
Forecasters say a thermal dome will rest over Alaska from Friday through Monday that will defy record daily temperatures. Fairbanks is expected to reach an abnormal high of 85 on Friday. That would be three degrees lower than the July 1 record temperature of 88 degrees, which was set just last year.
Fun times ahead for Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. ECMWF 500 MB high anomaly for the next 10 days in the episode below. Hill collapse/eastward shift can cause massive fire growth in many AKs while ridges increase fire weather in YK and NWT. pic.twitter.com/5KsVHDqFAJ
– Mike Flanigan (@mikeflanigan) 30 June 2022
Abnormal heat will accumulate on already abnormally dry plants, or as it is known to firefighters, fuel. In Anchorage, only 7 percent of the city’s usual June rainfall fell, while Fairbanks saw 36 percent of its June normal rainfall totals.