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PORTLAND-- We may be about to pay a penalty for our dry spring weather.

The Northwest Fire Coordination center is predicting an early start to the wildfire season. The period of highest fire danger will likely begin in mid-June, instead of the normal July 5.

Several reporting sites, including Salem and Hillsboro, reported the driest January-through-April on record. The National Weather Service is predicting a below-normal rainfall pattern to continue through July.

Current forecast models show very little rain through mid-May. Dry records for May in Portland show as little as .10 inches of rainfall. The driest June on record is .03 inches and July can be completely dry.

Snowpack numbers for the Northwest are near normal on Mt. Hood, as low as 40 percent of normal across southeastern Oregon, and more than 100 percent of normal across parts of Washington.

Fire Weather Manager John Saltenberger said despite the dry set up going into fire season, this summer's weather will still dictate whether or not we have a severe season. The two leading causes for wildfires are human activity and lightning strikes.

Human caused fires often spike over holiday weekends.

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