Dormant grass and lack of snow cover create fuel for fires

The race to the end of winter is upon us, as we're only five and half weeks away from the official start of spring. Although most of the winter was quite frigid, we've certainly lacked in the moisture department. The lack of moisture has led to little or no snow cover, which has kept things quite dry. Add in a handful of days where warm and breezy conditions are present and you have the perfect fuel for wildfires to spread.

Since the start of the year, a number of days have seen red flag warnings or elevated fire dangers. These are communicated to the general public as a way of expressing just how fast a fire can spread. While a red flag warning is of higher concern than an elevated fire danger, they both bring the threat of seeing any fire spreading rapidly. This comes thanks to breezy and/or windy conditions, low relative humidity, and dead fuel moisture available to a fire. 

The newest drought monitor released Thursday morning shows just how much drought problems continue to be a problem in Mid-Missouri. Where most of Mid-Missouri just saw dry conditions earlier in the year, the lack of moisture has allowed for a moderate drought to build into the region. Information provided by the Southeast River Forecast Center shows that depending on where you live, anywhere from three to eight inches of precipitation will be needed to end the ever-increasing drought across the region. 

Dormant grass is one of the biggest fuels for fires to spread, as they generally are very low on moisture. During the winter months yards all across the country change from a bright, lush green to brown. This would usually mean that something is dying, but that's not the case for our yards. Each year during the winter months our yards go dormant, or hibernate in order to protect the crown. The crown is the most important part of grass, as that is where the roots and blades come together. You kill the crown and the grass dies altogether. 

When grasses go dormant in the winter, less moisture is needed to keep them alive. It's a common misconception that your yard doesn't need water during the winter months, but that's not the case. Your yard should see some form of water at least every two weeks to keep the grass dormant and alive. 

While moisture has been lacking for several months across Mid-Missouri, the lack of snow cover isn't helping at all. It's looking likely that we'll see some beneficial precipitation this weekend across Mid-Missouri as we set our eyes on another chance for winter weather. You can read more about that event by clicking here.

The Climate Prediction Center shows that as we head into the coming weeks, Mid-Missouri will likely be in the battleground of fighting for moisture. 

Stay tuned to ABC 17 News as we continue to track the upcoming moisture and follow us on Twitter @ABC17Stormtrack.



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