NWS: Get a weather forecast before burning this spring

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Fire danger has already been increasing across the lower elevations of Wyoming due to below normal precipitation this year, especially in windy areas such as Cody and Dubois. These conditions have resulted in several agricultural burns getting out of control in the upper Wind River Basin, with property damage reported near Dubois. 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 Kelly Allen, Meteorologist and Fire Weather Program Manager at the Riverton National Weather Service office. “Having a weather forecast of how and when the wind speed and direction may change during the day 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.”

Allen added that dormant vegetation is primed for quick burning and that agricultural burns can easily become uncontrollable. Recent near record and record high temperatures across the lower elevations will only serve to make conditions more favorable for rapid fire growth, she 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. Two years ago, an out-of-control brushfire obscured visibility on a Florida interstate causing chain-reaction accidents that killed eleven motorists.

For more information about current and forecast weather conditions, visit the NWS Riverton website at weather.gov/riverton.