Will Spring Rain Help Diminish Brush Fire Potential?

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): While we’ve been soaked with rain and light snow late this winter and streams and creeks were running high just a few weeks ago, there’s one reoccurring spring hazard that can happen on a turn of a dime.

We’re in one of the least snowiest winters on record but at least rainfall has been plentiful. We’re above average by almost an inch in Bluefield and right on par with average in Beckley.

Regardless of how much rain or snow falls in winter, there is one danger lurking each year in late March into April.

With the leaves off the trees, the sun has no problem drying out the forest floor, even if soil moisture below the surface is more than adequate. This is the perfect recipe for brush fire development.

Traditionally, the lowest humidity of the year occurs on April afternoons thanks to the best combination of warm temperatures and lack of spring leaf bloom. April is the month when brush fire danger is the highest followed by late fall.

A Red Flag Warning is issued when the brush fire risk is the highest. What should you remember when it’s issued for our area? Don’t burn brush, don’t throw live charcoal on the ground and never toss out a lighted cigarette.

Chad Voice Track and Interview: So, what precautions are taken at New River Gorge during red flag days and how do officials manage the leaf litter available for forest fire fuel? District Supervisor Dave Bieri says they closely monitor the humidity and brush fire danger and take action through prescribed burns.

Fortunately the wildfire risk is lower than average this spring because of a heightened risk for rainfall, but again, all it takes is a couple of days of dry weather and a warm wind with lots of sunshine to fuel the potential.

We’ll keep you posted on trends and identify when the brush fire risk is the greatest…. Just stay with StormWatch 4 and follow us on Facebook.

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