2017-10-04 / Front Page

No rain in weeks means local fire hazards are high

by Kate Shunney

Just days ahead of the start of the fall Fire Season, the National Weather Service issued warnings that dry conditions have elevated fire risks in the region.

The special weather statement, issued Thursday, September 28, covered the Baltimore/Washington Metro area out west to Moorefield and south to Woodstock, Va. All of Morgan County were included in the warning area.

Weather officials cited the lack of rain for the last four to six weeks, low humidity and sustained winds as factors in the higher fire risk.

The last measured rainfall in this area was .04 inches on September 14 – two weeks ago. The heaviest rainfall here in September was in the first six days of the month, when a total of 1.4 inches of rain fell over five days. Climate data from the National Weather Service says this area has gotten just 1.46 inches of rain all month, which is 1.75 inches less than normal.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry rules about outdoor burning go into effect on October 1 and run through December 31. During that time, residents may not have outdoor fires between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. due to higher risks of field and brush fires spreading.

Anyone wanting to burn during the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. should call the Morgan County non-emergency dispatch line to notify them of the controlled burn. That number is 304-258- 0305.

Residents are advised they should avoid outdoor burning in the current dry conditions, where fallen leaves and dry brush increase the risk of fires getting out of control.

Trees and plant material that haven’t been watered regularly during recent weeks will be especially dry at this time, posing further fire risks around homes.

The National Weather Service weather outlook includes conditions through Columbus Day.

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