AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The High Plains region is still seeing varying degrees of drought as the winter fire season continues.

Chief Meteorologist John Harris said we ended 2022 in a moisture deficit, about 3.25″ below the average rainfall total. Because we are in a La Niña pattern, he said we will continue to see little moisture through the first part of March.

“So, if we’re not seeing moisture, typically we’re going to have wind and wind just basically makes it worse,” said Harris. “And so the grasses, the trees, everything’s dormant right now. So there’s fuel for the fire, we are in our wildfire season and so anytime the wind starts to blow, we’re in a drought, still varying degrees of drought, that’s going to help out with the prospects for having Red Flag Warning days, which is a critical wildfire threat type of day.”

Harris said a critical wildfire risk is also in the forecast for this Wednesday.

Juan Rodriguez, the Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service, said 90% of all wildfires in the state are caused by humans.

“Just be cognizant of that, and to also if you’re going to be participating in some welding or any activity that could start a spark, having some kind of water source to be able to extinguish that possible fire that could start,” said Rodriguez.

John added, “Just stay aware, know that we are in varying degrees of drought. So if you were to have to pull your car off side of the road, try not to park in the grass because the muffler system is very hot, it can spark a fire.”

Rodriguez also encourages people to have fire evacuation plans ready and take precautions to protect themselves and their property.

“A lot of those would be just taking a lot of that fuel out to protect whatever you’re trying to protect, whether it’s a home, a barn, your livestock and things like that having plans in place for these kinds of events,” he said. “Knowing where exits are and then also for protecting, having that defensible space and taking out vegetation. Or even having some landscape that would serve also as a fire break.”

Harris said we could transition from a La Niña to a neutral pattern over the summer months and potentially into an El Niño in the late summer.

“That means a lot of rainfall headed our way. So if you can hang on it looks like the summer months look promising to get us back into a wet type of year, or season, so to speak,” Harris added. “Will we get back to normal? Only time will tell, but at least we’ll be in our wet season.”