Is more wildfire, drought relief to come in south-central US following rain? |

Is more wildfire, drought relief to come in south-central US following rain?

Renee Duff
Meteorologist for

AccuWeather reports following the most significant rain event since last year, residents of the south-central United States may be wondering if more beneficial wet weather is on the way.

A storm from late this past week to the first part of the weekend delivered more rainfall in 24-36 hours than the past 5-6 months combined across a good portion of the southern High Plains.

A general 0.25 of an inch to 1 inch of rain fell during this past Friday and Saturday.

The lack of rainfall during the fall and winter months led to the explosive growth of extreme to exceptional drought conditions across the southwest and southern high Plains, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

As a result, brush has grown extremely dry, allowing wildfires to flourish across the area.

The recent rainfall helped to bolster containment of the Rhea Fire in western Oklahoma from 15 percent on April 19 to 74 percent on April 22, according to InciWeb. The fire has burned nearly 290,000 acres since igniting on April 12.

Containment of the 34 Complex Fire burning just north of Woodward, Okla., rose from 45 percent to 94 percent during the same time period.

The freshly dampened ground will make it harder for new wildfires to ignite in the coming weeks.

Brown pastures and brush will have a chance to green-up.

“This green-up is likely to be temporary, however, even if a second storm brings sporadic rainfall prior to the end of April,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

Timing of the rain from the second storm will be from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday across the southern Plains.

Rainfall amounts at midweek have the potential to match what fell during the last event.

Even though another sporadic rain event may follow by week’s end, residents should not get their hopes up that the drought or wildfire risk will be eliminated in the coming weeks and months.

Pastelok anticipates a very hot, dry summer from eastern Colorado and New Mexico to western Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“The risk of wildfires is likely to continue in the long term and may grow worse,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

With a long, hot summer expected, residents will need to remain up-to-date with the latest fire weather advisories, heed all instructions from local officials should a fire ignite, and avoid all activities that can spark a fire, such as improperly discarding cigarettes and using open flames.


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