NWS shares how to prevent wildfires amidst extreme drought

NWS shares how to prevent wildfires amidst extreme drought

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso County is currently under extreme drought conditions, that’s according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says the dry heat, low humidity and gusty winds all factor together to produce fire dangers.

“The El Paso area is currently in a D3 or an extreme drought right now. As far as the summer forecast, unfortunately, it’s looking a lot like last year in above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation chances,” said Katie Slusher, a meteorologist with NWS.

Slusher said that the current weather poses risks for human-ignited wildfires to start up and make it difficult to put out.

“For wildfires to go rampant, they need very dry air. So low minimum relative humidity values, very dry vegetation. Dry plants, trees, breezy winds and warm temperatures. All of those coupled together will create critical fire dangers,” said Slusher.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that there have been 12,693 wildfires in the U.S. between the months of January to April. Those fires have burned 1,833,012 acres.

As the southwest region continues through wildfire season, Slusher said there are things people can do to prevent a fire from starting.

“Properly discarding the cigarettes, don’t just throw them out because that can cause a wildfire. Another thing you can do is try and keep vehicles off dry grass because the hot underside of the car can also ignite flames. Avoid activities with open flames or sparks,” said Slusher.

For people who will be taking advantage of the rising temperatures to grill outdoors, Slusher said it’s important to properly dispose of coals and keep away from dry vegetation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the community can play their part to prevent wildfires by looking up fire restrictions in the area before planning any activities.

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