On March 25, the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for thousands of acres stretching across six Western states, including New Mexico, Colorado, and Nebraska. A combination of warm temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds had created the perfect conditions for a wildfire to spark.

No fires broke out—this time. But the late March alert was a reminder that wildfire there were many more red flag warnings to come this spring and summer. While fire experts say it’s too early to know how severe the 2020 season will be, in areas around the West, the land is primed to burn. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s most recent three-month drought outlook has drought conditions across large swathes of California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado persisting to the end of June.

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