The weather expert for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is holding to his prediction of an average wildfire season for eastern Washington. 

But Meteorologist Matthew Dehr says the next couple of weeks could bring elevated fire danger because of the continued presence of wind. 

"I think we're going to keep this strong westerly wind coming across the Cascades pretty frequently for at least the next couple of weeks," said Dehr. And that's really a pretty dangerous scenario for eastern Washington." 

He’s predicting conditions this Sunday will increase the chance of wildfires.  

Dehr says there's been a low-pressure system that's rather consistently hung out in the Gulf of Alaska which has been driving intermittent dry cold fronts into the Northwest. The pattern brings heavy wind and low humidity. 

For the time being, Dehr says new wildfire danger is being delayed by green grass and shrubs on the landscape, but those live fuels will begin to dry out in early July.  

He says the dead and downed fuels are already enhancing the chance for large wildfire growth, as has been the case with the Pioneer Fire, which is burning along the shore of Lake Chelan.  

The weather pattern for the month ahead will continue to bring cold fronts across the Cascades and breaks in the summer heat, according to Dehr. However, the pattern is also driving gusty westerly winds through the mountains.  

Dehr says his biggest concern for fire season moving forward is continued gusty westerly winds, especially once the grasses and shrubs begin to dry out.  

"It's hard to say right now that it would be this tremendous terrible season without seeing more lightning strikes or continued hot dry conditions," Dehr said. "I think it's going to be more mild with the temperatures and the winds are going to be the main concern."   

Dehr contines the forescast an average wildfire season in eastern Washington. But he points out that even an average season sees several significant fires on the landscape in the eastern part of the state.

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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster

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