El Niño May Stunt Texas Wildfire Development

Wildfire | Image by Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Expected wetter conditions from the El Niño weather pattern may reduce the risk of wildfires across Texas this year. This reduction and weather pattern comes after a year of thousands of wildfires across the state.

Summer 2023 brought oppressive temperatures and wildfires burning thousands of acres across the state, prompting Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration. Firefighters across the state responded to 6,534 wildfires, which burned over 204,000 acres last year, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Experts hope the wetter conditions expected with the current El Nino weather pattern could stunt the development of wildfires this year.

Juan Hernandez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, told The Dallas Express that the agency is expecting this weather pattern to persist for the rest of the winter and that rain over the season could influence wildfire development later in the year.

“If we see more rain, then we’re probably going to see some impact, but it’s variable depending on how much rain we get throughout the year,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez explained that conditions contributing to wildfire potential across the state have already improved. We currently have no drought in the North Texas region, with heavy drought persisting only towards the south. This improvement in conditions across the state is partially attributed to rainfall seen last fall.

“El Niño may continue to enhance precipitation amounts throughout the cold season, leading to additional improvement,” the National Weather Service website states. “However, extraordinary long-term precipitation deficits will take some time to reverse, thus some of the ongoing drought areas are likely to persist into the upcoming spring.”

Hernandez warned that conditions may become right again for development when vegetation dries. Even if they do not live in counties under burn bans, residents are advised to remain observant and not use fire near dry vegetation.

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