Wildfires - July 2003

Dry and warm conditions were conducive to fire activity throughout much of the West during July. However, the number of acres burned through the end of the month was far less than in 2002. Montana, Washington and Idaho all had large fires in July 2003. The Glacier fire forced the closure of parts of Glacier National Park to visitors for part of the month.

Seasonal (January 1-August 3) wildfire statistics, according to the National Interagency Fire Center:
As of August 3 Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
2003 37,239 1,833,799
2002 53,470 4,440,765
2001 50,292 1,546,227
10-year Average 61,932 3,766,665

One the major fires in early July was the Aspen fire in Coronado National Forest in Arizona. Well over 84,000 acres were burned in that fire alone. Pre-instrumental evidence in the Southwest provides hundreds of years of fire scar evidence for the region. By gaining a multi-century perspective, one clear conclusion is that since 1900, fires have been less extensive mostly due to fire suppression strategies.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for July 2003, published online August 2003, retrieved on April 20, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2003/7.