Transition to La Niña could cause more active fire season

Weather

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to the National Weather Services’ Climate Prediction Center, we are transitioning from neutral conditions to a La Niña.

This transition could mean a more active fire season for us. According to the Climate Prediction Center, there is a 60% chance of La Niña development during fall and continuing through winter 20-21.

A la niña pattern usually means dry conditions for our area, with below-average rainfall and snowfall. That pattern usually is not good considering we already have varying degrees of drought here on the High Plains.

Chief Meteorologist John Harris weighed in on what La Niña could mean for our upcoming wildfire season as we transition.

Harris said La Niña spells hot, dry weather during the early fall months, and probably lack of snow as we get into the winter months.

“Typically the worst months are once we go below freezing, so our average first freeze is like the 20th of October, and so we start seeing freezing weather after that,” Harris said. “So the grasses go dormant, and now they’re kindling for the fire. Of course, it gets windy in November. It’s dry and don’t have any snow coming in or just a little amount of snow, that wildfire threat ramps up very quickly.”

Harris said the last time a la niña pattern hurt us badly was in 2011. causing a megadrought throughout the entire southwestern US.

Droughts levels vary here on the High Plains depending on where you live. Unfortunately, here in Amarillo, we have not seen much moisture so far this year.


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