Wildfire concerns? Already?

A fire weather watch was issued for Lincoln County on Thursday, leaving more than a few residents shaking their heads at the idea that wildfires could already be a concern — it’s not even mid-May.

If there’s one thing you can say about living on the central Oregon coast it’s that you just never know what to expect when it comes to the weather. Normally, the moisture level is still quite high this time of year, but 2019 has certainly had its ups and downs in terms of rainfall. Levels were a bit below average for January and February, and then March saw only 2.32 inches of rain. The rains returned with a vengeance in April, with well over 7 inches falling in the first couple of weeks to exceed the average precipitation for the entire month. But then the tap was shut off. Over the last half of April, just 0.12 inches of rainfall was recorded, and there has been none so far in May. In fact, the last recorded rainfall at the Hatfield Marine Science Center was just 0.01 inches on April 23.

 When you combine that lack of rainfall with the fact that the temperature exceeded 85 degrees on Thursday, accompanied by wind gusts of more than 30 miles per hour, it’s no wonder that local fire districts are keeping a wary eye on these conditions.

 “It is hard to believe this beautiful weather we are experiencing could bring hazardous conditions to our county, but it is true,” said Lincoln County Emergency Manager Jenny Demaris in an email sent out Thursday via the county’s Lincoln Alerts notification system. “We need to be vigilant about fire protection and be ready to evacuate if a notice is issued from local public safety officials,” she said.

 The conditions have resulted in burn bans being imposed around the county, and people are being asked to use caution with any potential ignition sources. That probably means you should even use a little extra care with that backyard barbecue. If in doubt as to whether or not a burn ban is in effect for the area where you live, it’s always best the check with your local fire department — they’ll have the latest information.

 While this un-coastal-like weather is a nice change of pace, it is up to each of us to be mindful of this “Red Flag Warning” issued by the National Weather Service and do our part to prevent a fire from starting. But by all means, get out and enjoy the sunshine because you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us next.


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