Warm and dry weather suitable for brush fires


ADDS DATE – This photo provided by Adam Polinger shows a wildfire near the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area near Hardwick Township, N.J., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Firefighters from federal and New Jersey agencies were battling the forest fire that broke out in a popular hiking area near the Pennsylvania border. (Adam Polinger via AP)

WBRE/WYOU-TV/EYEWITNESS WEATHER – Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania will be getting some much needed rainfall in parts of our area over the next couple of days, but the lack of snow this winter continues to run the risk for brush fires.

For the past week or so, higher temperatures and abundant sunshine have been great for outdoor activities, but it also increases the risk for brush fires in our area. Although a few days of rain will help prevent brush fires, the key missing factor this winter has been snow and ice cover.

If you look around there’s a lot of brown, dry grass, weeds and dead leaves across the ground. Usually at this point in the year we’ve had some good snow cover to mat down this debris and keep the ground moist, but that hasn’t been the case this year. A landscape with all of that dead and dry material is just fuel for brush fires to spark up.

Another fire factor is the relative humidity. Relative humidity, the amount of water vapor present in the air, tends to be lower in the winter than in the summer. When the relative humidity is low, leaves, grass and other fuel items only dry out faster. So despite the rain we’ll be seeing this week, we can expect the ground to dry out rather quickly, especially as the wind picks up to end the week.

Be sure to check in with any local burn bans in your area and be cautious to not discard any lit smoking material in areas where the ground has dried out. Just a small spark can set off a chain reaction.

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