Monday, May 4, 2015

Fire Weather Alerts Point To Too Dry Conditions In The Northeast

A firefighter works to contain a forest fire
near Bristol, Vermont during dry conditions
in the spring of 2013. Similar dry
conditions exist today.  
Today is probably the worst possible day to torch your burn pile, if you have one, pretty much anywhere in the Northeast.

Especially in New York and New England, it will be windy and warm today with low humidity. That's a great recipe to get a nasty brush, grass or forest fire going, especially this time of year.

The dead stuff from last year has dried out in the spring sunshine. Especially in northern areas, trees are just now leafing out, so drying sun is getting to the forest floor.

It hasn't rained much lately, so it's especially dry.  Bottom line: Don't do anything involving fire outside today. And please, smokers, just for once, don't throw your cigarette butts out the car window.

The fire alerts today point to another issue. It's getting pretty dry in the Northeast. That might come as a surprise to people who followed news of all those feet and feet of snow that buried parts of New England over the winter.

But the spring season hasn't been too wet. That was great because we didn't have much heavy rain to combine with snowmelt, which meant there wasn't much spring flooding.

Now, though, New England needs the rain. I noticed it working out in the gardens on Sunday. It's a lot drier than I'm used to this time of year.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has
dry and drought conditions across much of the nation.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has New England as abnormally dry, but there's no drought like out in California or other parrs of the western United States.

The dryness in New England and elsewhere represents an expansion of drought or potentially drought conditions in the United States this year.

In New England, the dryness is still far from a crisis, but we need the rain. A cold front tonight will product a paltry set of scattered showers, but no soaking.

Most of the rest of the week will be dry and warm, perfect for outdoor spring activities, but not so great if you want to wet the gardens or you don't want to see us slowly slide toward a drought.

Again, no immediate threat, but we ought to hope some showers due next weekend are heavier than previous forecasts indicate.

Meanwhile, put the matches down and slowly back away. No outdoor burning today, caliche?

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