The La Nina climate phenomenon in the South Pacific Ocean is contributing to weather conditions that are expected to be warm and dry with low humidity. It’s leading to concerns about the possibility of an increase in winter wildfires from the mid-South across the Plains states.
Geary County Extension Agent Chuck Otte said there has not been a significant rainfall since mid-october and there have been above average temperatures. There have been major wildfires the past two years in southern Kansas. He knows it’s possible that could occur in this east central Kansas area. “Absolutely, the past two springs it’s just by an act of God that we haven’t had what they’ve seen in south central Kansas. Two springs in a row an entire county has burned basically. That could happen somewhere in the Flint Hills.
Otte noted there have been some strong wind events recently. “You get a fire going with one of those kind of wind events. You’re not going to stop it. It’s going to run.”
The extension agent said common sense and caution apply. Don’t have outdoor fires, don’t be throwing smoking materials out the car window as you’re going down the road.”
In Geary County Otte said the soil surface is not damp, all the thatch and vegetation is dry but there is some good soil moisture so the 2018 wheat crop is not suffering yet.