Elevated fire danger, drought conditions for the Carolinas | Weather
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Dry, windy conditions have resulted in elevated fire danger on Monday.
With the peak of severe weather season fast approaching, Carolinians are rightfully concerned with the threat of dangerous thunderstorms and potentially deadly tornadoes.
However, Monday's watches and warnings have nothing to do with twisters or flooding, but the potential for rapidly spreading wildfires.
Drought is a more subtle threat than large hail or strong, damaging winds, but it still has far-reaching consequences. A moderate drought is already in place across the Carolinas, and as of today, we're already running over a three inch deficit in total rainfall so far this year.
That number alone isn't terribly concerning, but it shows that we have some catching up to do. In the short term, with high pressure to our west and lack of moisture moving in, that is not likely to happen.
What about farther out?
Scientists look at several factors when predicting long term trends in precipitation and temperature including computer models, current levels of soil moisture and the strength of El Nino conditions in the Pacific, which has global impacts on climate.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting below normal precipitation for the next month at least, and without a significant rain event for the next week, fires could easily start and on a windy day they could quickly spread.
It's easy to write off these Fire Weather Watches and Warnings, but we've seen what significant droughts are capable of.
Long stretches without rain can kill billions of dollars worth of crops, disrupt tourism and result in dangerous wildfires that can scorch hundreds or even thousands of acres of land, destroying homes and businesses in the process.
Some fires have causes beyond our control. Lightning, for example, is the trigger for dozens of wildfires across the country every year.
However, many fires can be avoided by using simple precautions.
By not throwing cigarette butts out the car window or avoiding activities like welding, which throw off sparks, during windy days you can prevent these fires from ever starting in the first place.