The New York City region of New York State can experience wildfire conditions at any time of year.
In winter, some years have experienced a nearly open winter where snowfall has occurred periodically but hasn’t accumulated and stayed for any length of time. With the prevailing dry air mass from Canada predominating the area during winter, wildfires can occur when there is no snow in the woods. These fires are almost always very small in size, typically in stands of phragmites in and adjacent to disturbed or wet areas.
The spring fire season starts with snowmelt which is usually somewhere between late February and mid March. The spring is the primary season for wildfire, especially the months of March and April, is when we experience dry air masses and high winds, sometimes resulting in relative humidities in the 20’s and lower. These are critical fire weather conditions which can and have led to fires directly impacting communities. These fires are usually fast wind driven surface fires. The biggest concern is the urban interface; the homes adjacent to most of these very volatile stands of dead, dry standing phragmites have no to very little defensible space around their properties. Property damage has resulted in the past.
Summer is typically very quiet due to green up and full leaf out. When a dry air mass moves in, conditions for wildfire may become ripe in the woodlands. Under drought conditions, these fires require a lot more suppression effort because you are more apt to be dealing with ground fire in addition to surface fire. The summer fire season typically occurs in the months of June, July and August, and into September.
Early fall is usually fairly quiet, but when the phragmites goes dormant again, conditions may become just as ripe as the spring and winter fire seasons.
There are no areas of historic large wildfires in this region due to the fact that the urban interface is so spread out and patchworked with only small tracts of natural areas in between.