(KXAN) – The Texas A & M Forest Service is conducting nine fires on Thursday night, raising the wildfire fire rating to five – the highest on the scale. This will prepare them for firefighting with all their state resources.
Predicting new summer views from the NOAA Climate Forecast Center as hotter and drier than usual, our ‘Summer View’ section four examines what could happen in the coming months of drought and wildfires.
Lieutenant Steve Gibbon leads a five-engine team from the Austin Fire Department’s wildfire department.
We set fire to 40,000 acres[40,000 ha]in the lower part of the Canadian River, and Sandy’s lower fireplace was another 8,000 acres[8,000 ha].
“We live in a beautiful place,” he said.
At Station 46 in South Austin, firefighters are packing gear and a large number of vehicles are set to arrive in May.
More on KXAN’s Summer Outlook series
“Our plants are already lagging behind in terms of moisture content,” says Lett. Gibbon said.
You may notice that some of the plants in the area are still green during this hot, dry May. According to Andrea Delong-Amaya, director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the plants do not have much moisture in them, but they do push all the greens in the spring. What we are seeing now is basically a remnant.
“When warming up this year and the drought hit, they are basically surviving,” Delong-Amaya said. “Those dry leaves become more combustible than wet and green plants.”
Drought has been declining across Texas since January, and if we look warmer and drier than normal summer, things will get worse.
“If we don’t get this rain in the right place at the right time, this summer, those pines may be unusually dry and fire resistant,” said Lt. Gibon. “So we can have a good fire around us.”
Lake levels are a critical barometer in Central Texas.
During normal summers, Lake Travis falls below 9.4 feet, exposing more beaches and underwater islands. During the unusually dry summer, the lake falls further. Lake Travis is at its lowest point since 2015.
This is something that many Central Texas hope for.
“Rain!” Delong-Amaya said, “I want rain.”
The Austin Fire Department said that although it is expected to rain next week, it will help to grow grass that could ignite wildfires during the summer.
In the final part of Friday’s Weather Warning Team, we explore a variant of summer rain and heat protection – active Atlantic hurricane season.