Washington's wildfire meteorologist does not think the state is headed for an extreme fire season. 

Department of Natural Resources Meteorologist Matthew Dehr specifically thinks North Central Washington will have a normal season because of the weather pattern. 

He doesn't think there will be heavy spring rainfall, which would increase grass growth that would turn into wildfire fuel when it dries out. 

"If we end up with a hotter and drier spring, which is kind of what I think we're looking at the next two months, we might not see that huge yield of grass like we did in the early 2020s, which led to very substantial grass fires across the Columbia Basin," said Dehr. 

The warmer, wetter El Niño winter in the region is expected to transition into a hotter, drier La Niña pattern for spring. 

Meanwhile, Snowpack has substantially grown in Washington’s Central Cascades. Dehr says the area from Wenatchee to Stevens Pass, south to White Pass is much better off now than at the beginning of March, with snowpack having climbed back up to 80 percent of normal. 

But there's concern about the North Cascades, where snowpack is only 50-60 percent of normal.  

Dehr says the low snowpack is bringing a substantial lack of water to the area. 

"Those areas were already in drought when we entered the winter, so they're likely to dry out first and go back into drought earlier. And that's definitely a concern going forward as we head toward summer." 

The areas of concern for wildfires this summer include Lake Chelan, Washington Pass, the Methow Valley, and North Cascades National Park. 

Dehr does not see snowpack in the North Cascades, or the Olympic Mountains on the westside, reaching average levels through the spring. 

He says his focus approaching summer is twofold: 1. How quickly does the snowpack melt off and allow the forest fuels to start drying out, and 2. How much precipitation falls in the foothills and grasslands, which can lead to increased grass growth.

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