As we move into February we also enter grass fire season, and Texoma is slipping deeper into drought every day. This means we’ll probably see some significant grass fires through the end of March, when the season typically winds down.
February and March are often the windiest months of the year here, with vegetation fairly dormant through early March. These conditions set the stage for potentially fast-moving fires.
In many ways it’s been the worst combination of factors: three significant cold snaps in December and January leaving ground vegetation dried out, and warmer-than average temperatures in January removing topsoil moisture.
In fact, despite the coldest observed weather in 21 years January 7, the month of January 2017 as a whole winds up as the 11th warmest on record for Texoma, and the warmest January since 2006.
The Climate Prediction Center outlook for the spring is rather bleak, with above normal temperatures and below average rainfall expected. While this isn't set in stone, there's a strong indicator for drought given the overall pattern.
Some common-sense precautions to help keep fires from happening:
>>> Don’t throw smoldering cigarettes out the window or in the yard.
>>> Never burn outside on windy days or when a Burn Ban is in effect.
>>> Avoid welding outdoors on windy days as this can also generate sparks and start fires.
>>> Properly dispose of flammable liquids.
>>> Don’t burn fire ant mounds with gasoline.
>>> Don’t park vehicles in tall grass; the hot exhaust system can start a fire in a hurry.
Hopefully we’ll get through fire season with some good fortune, and we can all help by being careful with ignition sources. But, it looks like the weather won't helping much, the way it looks now.
News 12 / KXII-TV