Get a weather forecast before burning this spring
by National Weather Service
March 22, 2012
Fire danger has been increasing across the lower elevations of Wyoming due to a lack of winter snowfall and the recent warm and windy weather. These conditions have resulted in several agricultural burns getting out of control in the Big Horn Basin and Johnson County. The National Weather Service in Riverton is advising people to get the most up-to-date weather forecast before conducting agricultural burns.
"It is common for calm morning wind to give way to gusty wind around the midday hours during this time of year," said Chris Jones, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Riverton National Weather Service office. "Having a weather forecast of expected wind speed and direction is valuable in the burn planning process. Federal and state land management agencies routinely ask us for this information. The general public should do the same." Jones added that dormant vegetation is primed for quick burning and that agricultural burns can easily become uncontrollable. A recent grass fire in Yuma County, Colo., torched two homes and 84 square miles as winds of 30 to 60 mph whipped the flames. The fire caused the evacuation of around 1,000 people. "We donít want to see something like that happen here," Jones said.
Landowners, conservation districts, and others who plan to conduct prescribed burning activities are strongly encouraged to check the latest weather forecast by calling the NWS toll-free at 1-800-211-1448. They should inform local government officials of burn plans as well.
WYDOT also advises that prescribed burns that damage state property, including right-of-way fencing, inside the state highway rights-of-way are criminally and civilly liable. Reduced visibility due to smoke is also a concern for motorists. Ten motorists were killed on a Florida interstate earlier this year when smoke from a brushfire obscured visibility.
For more information about current and forecast weather conditions, visit the NWS Riverton website at www.weather.gov/riverton.