Threat of fire weather increased in the Black Hills
Rapid City, S.D. — It’s getting hot hot hot outside, and that brings a heightened potential for fire weather.
Conditions across the state and western South Dakota have been exceptionally variable, and despite recent storms that brought plenty of hail, the Black Hills has still experienced drought conditions the last few weeks. South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo said,
“We’ve had a lot of severe thunderstorms, a lot of big hail storms, tornadoes in the northern Black Hills, but the storms have been spotty. There’s been a lot of areas in between those thunderstorms that haven’t gotten the rainfall, and those are the areas we’re really concerned with looking at the fire potential.”
Low humidity, high winds, and hot temperatures are prime fire weather conditions and can lead to major fire growth across western South Dakota. Meade County has already implemented a burn ban in hopes of deterring a wide spread fire event, with conditions being favorable in the coming days.
“Southwestern South Dakota’s gonna see temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, winds could gust from 20-30 mph, and our humidity’s gonna drop below 15%, that’s a real critical element for our fire conditions here across the state,” said Clabo.
A number of fires have already occured this season, and although there has been an abundance of rain in the past few years, and the grass looks healthy and green, there is still a high risk for large amounts of land to burn.
“We look across the hill side, and we might see green grass, but what you don’t see it the thatch layer,” said Clabo. “All the dead grass that’s below the green grass, and that’s really what’s carrying a lot of these fires. So, although a field might look green, it’s still able to carry fire because there’s so much dead grass down below that green grass growth that’s new from this year.”
While enjoying the Black Hills this summer, it’s also important to do your part in preventing fires. Clabo said,
“Make sure that your chains, if you have an rv or a boat make sure those chains are dragging. Make sure you’re not parking in long grass, just really being vigilant to ensure that you’re not going to be the one starting any fires.”