VERIFY: Will the rain be enough to extinguish wildfires burning across the region?

Will this rain be enough to extinguish wildfires burning across the region?

SPOKANE, Wash. — Will the recent rainfall throughout the Inland Northwest be enough to extinguish wildfires burning across the region?

KREM 2 Meteorologist Briana Bermensolo predicts about a half inch of rain sweeping across the area, including parts of Western Montana where wildfires have been burning for weeks.  

And there is more rain on the way.  Our weather forecast is calling for more rain, snow and cooler temperatures.

"It's going to be very wet and cooler than normal,” Bermensolo said.  "This rain will help slow fires down."

That is what firefighters really need right now.

Guy Gifford of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources said a few consecutive days in a row of consistent rain, along with a little snow in the mountains, would be ideal.

 “When we get a big shot of rain it slows it down just for now.  When we get this drizzling effect it slows everything down for days to give fire fighters that chance to get around it and stop the whole fire,” Gifford said.

But it is not just the wet weather fire crews hope for, it is also cooler weather.  Gifford said cooler temperatures significantly reduce the chance of a spark igniting a fire.

So this wet weather should slow the fires down, but will it extinguish them?

These experts said there will not be enough moisture to keep fire fuel, like logs and brush, wet enough to prevent igniting.  It will, however, create better conditions for firefighters to work in.

Gifford said the moisture needs to reach the center of a log in order to slow down the spread of fire.  In order for this to happen, it needs to drizzle for many days.  Gifford said the sparse amounts of drizzle help out as well.

"It's going to reduce our fire danger so it's a step in the right direction,” Gifford said,

So what did we learn? Moisture and cooler temperatures definitely help our fire crews but it is not enough to completely extinguish the currently burning fires.

VERIFY Sources:

  • Briana Bermensolo, KREM 2 Meteorologist 
  • Guy Gifford of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources

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© 2017 KREM-TV


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