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Above average rain could reduce fire danger in Southwest Florida

Posted at 1:06 AM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 01:06:10-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — FGCU ecology professor Win Everham focuses on catastrophic events like droughts and fires. He said the continuous rain that’s hit Southwest Florida the past few days could reduce fires this dry season.

“So we can continue to have these cold fronts coming through once or twice a month…we’ll have a lot safer year,” he said.

He said it’s not particularly unusual to see rain during the dry season which runs October through May, just not this much rain. But he said the more rain the better, when it comes to fire prevention.

“If we have really, really dry conditions that’s what sets its up for particularly problematic fire. So I think more rain…if we have a few more of these fronts come through in the next couple months, keep things wet. It’ll reduce the danger of really extreme fire,” said Everham.

FOX 4’s meteorologist Eric Stone said heavy rain this time of year isn’t normal for Southwest Florida.

“Definitely not for the month of January. I’ve been here seven years and I’ve never seen a prolonged rain event like we’re seeing right now,” he said.

Last January Southwest Florida got five inches of rain. The month’s average every year is a little over two inches. Today there was more than whole month’s worth of rainfall. Three and a half inches.

Stone said he agrees with Everham that the wet weather reduces fire danger.

“It’s very good. In fact, just the other day fire danger across Southwest Florida was high and moderate across all of Southwest Florida,” he said. “Now it looks like the entire Peninsula of Southwest Florida fire danger is low thanks to all this rain we’ve gotten this weekend.”

But there’s still a few more months of our dry season. Stone and Everham said we’ll just have to wait and see if the rain continues.