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State Climatologist: Dry spring brings ideal fire conditions to Nebraska

Right now, 98% of Nebraska is experiencing drought conditions, and as spring rolls on that’s expected to continue.
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Right now, 98% of Nebraska is experiencing drought conditions, and as spring rolls on that’s expected to continue.

Experts said the recent massive wildfire in central Nebraska isn’t surprising and there’s a possibility of more in the coming weeks.

That fire in south-central Nebraska took over about 35,000 acres and still isn’t fully contained. Nebraska’s State Climatologist Martha Shulski said this spring is proving to be perfect conditions for fire.

“Combined with the windy days when a spark does happen it’s gonna be very difficult to control fires,” Shulski said. “THey’re going to get out of control pretty easily and pretty quickly.”

Shulski said looking ahead while fires may not exactly be the new normal for spring, Nebraskans should expect to see more variables in potential weather, that are more intense.

“Extreme weather conditions will be in play for us,” Shulski said. “And that’s something that we need to think about and consider and even looking at what was a typical fire weather season that’s going to be changed.”

Shulski said it’s important to keep in mind how varying Nebraska’s weather can be, especially during this time of year. So a long wet spell would help us catch up and be back on track for our normal wet season, which typically starts this month.

“So if we can even get normal rainfall we would be in a little bit better condition,” Shulski said. “We would like to see above-normal rainfall but I don’t know how likely that is to happen.”

As for what you can do, awareness is key. From driving a stake into the ground to hitting a pothole, and beyond is now something you should be paying close attention to.

“Really be cognisant of the conditions around you and anything that might cause a spark could result in something that is very, very dangerous because we are so dry,” Shulski said.