Lack of snow is promoting high wildfire danger

POSTED: 04:00 PM MST Nov 26, 2012    UPDATED: 05:22 PM MST Nov 26, 2012 

After a dry summer, a dry fall is now under way in southern Colorado.

According to the National Weather Service records, the average amount of snow Colorado Springs should have accumulated between Sept. 1 and Nov. 25 is 6.8 inches.  As of Nov. 25, Colorado Springs has only received 0.9 inches.

Similarly, Pueblo should have accumulated 5.1 inches of snow since Sept. 1.  This year, Pueblo has only accumulated 1.6 inches of snow.

“I’d say it is one of the worst starts that we’ve seen in a while.  We didn’t have any moisture or much moisture this summer, and then we haven’t had any so far this fall.  It’s extremely dry out there,” said Dawn Sanchez, fire prevention technician with the U.S. Forest Service.

Sanchez said that wildfires will remain a concern until Colorado begins accumulating more rain and snow.  She said it is important for residents to continue practicing wildfire prevention methods when outdoors.

According to Sanchez, any warming fires built at campsites should be monitored closely and properly extinguished. 

She said cigarettes should be smoked away from any dry grasses and fuels, adding that smokers should take the butts with them and should never throw them onto the ground.

Sanchez also said motorists need to be mindful when driving and parking near dry fuels.

“One of the major things we see with vehicles is parking on tall dry grass, the heat transfer from the underneath of the vehicle into the grass and that could start a fire,” said Sanchez.

According to Sanchez, cold season wildfires do not burn for as long summer wildfires.  They are also more easily knocked down because of the lower temperatures.

The U.S. Forest Service said that if there continues to be a lack of rain and snow this season, Colorado could be facing even more problems by spring.

“It’s a serious situation that we’re in now.  Usually we do get the moisture in the winter that bumps us up a little bit as far as fuel moisture, but we’re not getting that this year and if it continues to be dry, we’re going to be in a tough situation next year,” said Sanchez.