TUCSON - An extreme drought is developing in Southern Arizona, which indicates the potential for increased wildfires. According to this week’s US drought monitor status, we are currently in the severe to extreme drought category in Southern Arizona.
Tucson has recorded less than two 2.5 inches of rain since August. According to Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, Carl Cerniglia, certain fuel level moistures are even drier than the record-setting wildfire year of 2011.
Cerniglia says, “The mountains are normally expected to receive at least some snowfall and they have gotten very little. That is very detrimental to the trees up there. So, with a lack of significant rain fall, we have entered into extreme drought conditions.” Cerniglia says without any additional rainfall, it will only get drier. In return, this makes fires more active, intense, and difficult to suppress or control, making it more challenging for firefighters.
Fire Captain, Andy Skaggs of Tucson Fire Department says we need to be more careful about how fires start. He recommends clearing brush that is near your home, getting rid of items stacked against your house, and properly discarding cigarettes.
While La Nina is starting to dissipate in the Eastern Pacific, odds favor warm and dry conditions will continue.