This spring will be remembered as one of Minnesota’s driest with on-going high fire conditions. A normal fire season for the Superior National Forest is from mid-May to mid-June. But, normal is a relative term, according to Jean Bergerson of the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.
The conditions that were in place when the Ham Lake Fire ignited on May 5, 2007, arrived at least four weeks early this year and continue to remain in place, according to Bergerson. Record breaking fire indices, partnered with lack of rain, keep the entire Arrowhead in extreme fire danger.
According to Department of Natural Resources data, the average number of fires per year over the last 25 years is 100 and the average number of acres burned per year is 400. In April this year alone, there have been 612 fires burning over 20,000 acres.
“While the current scattered light showers are welcome and provide a much needed rest to fire crews who have been hard at work since mid March, they are not enough to replenish our lack of moisture,” said Bergeron. She added that in order to maintain levels and keep the fire danger from extreme, the area needs one-half inch of rain per week.
According to the weather service in Duluth, April was the warmest since 1871. Temperatures were seven degrees above normal. Precipitation was 2.7 inches behind normal.