Experts are already predicting that Montana's fire danger this summer will be above average, and, in light of a recent history of rough fire seasons, those aren't words to take lightly. Forest Service Meteorologist Mike Richmond says for many parts of the state, the high fire risk began this week.

"We have had an early start to the fire season in eastern and central Montana," said Richmond. "We've had very warm temperatures since January throughout the region and that melted the snow early in lower elevations. Because they haven't greened up, that means they do warm up and dry out, and, as we've seen this week, that means the fire danger comes pretty quickly."

Richmond says May and June are the wettest months of the year for western Montana, but it too is expected to be hit by a tough fire season eventually.

We are running below average on our snow-packs, and it has been quite a bit warmer than normal," said Richmond. "We're expecting that to continue, the above normal temperatures, through the summer, with near-average precipitation. With that kind of scenario unfolding, I do expect that we will see above average fire potential in Western Montana by July."

A lot of the fire risk can be balanced out by precipitation. Richmond says that cooler, wet weather moving across Montana this week should help to decrease the fire risk for April.