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Western Washington braces for tough year of wildfires

(Bellevue Fire)

With winter officially in the rear-view, the Pacific Northwest is primed for dry, warm weather, and with it, an increased risk of wildfires.

RELATED: Six fires pop up across Puget Sound in single day

Over just a three-day span of record-setting 70-plus degree weather this week, the Puget Sound region saw 25 fires pop up, including a 120-acre blaze in Mossyrock, and a 25-acre brush fire in Eatonville.

West of the Cascades, crews have already responded to 49 brush fires.

“Many worry it’s going to be a bad summer,” said KIRO 7 TV Reporter Shelby Miller on Wednesday.

That concern is rooted in forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calling for dry, hot weather this spring. The NOAA’s forecast also predicts less precipitation than in past seasons, with a 40 to 50 percent chance of getting a “drier than normal” season.

The chance of a “warmer than normal” spring sits between 50 and 60 percent.

That trend started long before spring, too.

“Seattle has only had about half the normal March precipitation (1.16 inches versus 2.23 inches average to date),” said KIRO 7 Meteorologist Morgan Palmer. “Last March was even slightly drier to this date. For the year to date, we’re at 9.61 inches versus the average of 11.30 inches.”

To account for the dry season, be sure you’re not throwing cigarette butts on the ground, burning brush responsibly, and observing burn bans when in effect.

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