LAKEWOOD - When Tim Mathewson looks at his weather data for the first three months of this year, he sees a summer that worries him.
Mathewson is the fire meteorologist for the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center. He says that even though the first three months of 2013 have delivered above average precipitation to Denver, the story in the rest of the state is very different.
"The northern Front Range did pretty well, but portions of southern Colorado and western Colorado were on the drier side during the month of March," Mathewson said.
2012 was one of the most active fire seasons on record in Colorado. It began with the Lower North Fork Fire which started on March 26.
Mathewson says this fire season likely won't start until early May. He cites the precipitation received in March and the cooler temperatures as reason.
In March of 2012, Denver had 16 days when temperatures reached 70 or above. In March of 2013, there has only been one day when the temperature reached 70 or above.
"We look at the conditions compared to last year and the big question is always, are we going to have a repeat of the fire season 2012? There are some similarities, but there are also some differences," Mathewson said.
He says the wind conditions, that can dry fuels, have not been as severe this year. In March of 2012, there were 13 days when winds gusted over 25 mph, while this March only produced five days.
The drought conditions that are gripping the state will play a factor in what kind of fire season Colorado will see. If April and May, traditionally wet months in Colorado, produced significant moisture the outlook would improve.
"We are in a very critical time right now. April and May, if it turns out to be below average precipitation we'll see probably an above average fire season once again," Mathewson said.