Blustery conditions continued Thursday following an even windier start to the week. Winds and a lack of precipitation may be responsible for a number of fire related incidents throughout the area.
The National Weather Service said gusts remained primarily in the 10 to 15 mph range Thursday and are expected to slacken overnight to a range of five to 10 mph. However, gusts will likely pick back up Saturday, reaching 15 to 20 mph.
Sunday, a front is expected to come through the area in the predawn hours of the day. This will cause the origin of the winds to shift from the south to the north. Gusts will remain between five and 10 mph on Sunday.
Windy conditions have played a part in a number of grass fires this week. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s wind gusts reached as high as 25 mph with a low relative humidity.
Although there is currently no burn ban for Grayson County, these conditions are not conducive to safe burning.
The Grayson County Office of Emergency Management explained Texas law prohibits outdoor burning anywhere in Texas all the time. Laws are in place to provide exceptions to this prohibition only for situations in which burning is necessary and does not pose a threat to the environment.
Grayson County Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers said residents should check the weather every day to see if the exceptions are met that would allow legal burning.
“Even without a burn ban, it’s illegal to burn if the wind speed is too high or too low,” Somers said. “It’s extremely dangerous because of wind, but by the same token, if there is no wind, it allows dangerous smoke and environmental contaminants from fires to stay in an area.”
Somers explained wind speed is not the only thing people need to take into consideration.
“We really encourage people to review the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality guide,” Somers said. “Close proximity of what we consider fuel for a fire, like dry vegetation can be an issue. It’s also in our law that if what you’re burning and when your burning it and the wind direction means the smoke is going into the neighbor’s house and backyard and they are sensitive to it — it’s illegal to burn.”
Somers went on to say the local agricultural community understands and follows the rules.
“That’s why we all, in the Commissioners Court, take very seriously whether there is a burn ban or not,” Somers said. “But when Grayson County residents and businesses use fire safely and legally follow existing Texas law it really makes burn bans not always necessary. The burn bans do catch people’s attention, so when it gets really dangerous, we should have one but that is always up to the discretion of the Commissioners Court.”
Also contributing to the potential threat of grass fires is the abnormally dry conditions currently being experienced in Grayson County. NWS meteorologist Lamont Bain said the primary impact on drought conditions is precipitation.
“The way to ease or worsen drought conditions is through precipitation,” Bain said. “On Sunday, there is a 30 percent chance of rain. The precipitation we are forecasting for this weekend is looking unlikely to have much of an impact. Drought conditions will continue to persist across Grayson County.”
The drought monitor that was released by the NWS categorizes Sherman and Denison lowest on the five point scale for drought conditions with “abnormally dry conditions.”
Following an expected temperature drop Thursday night below freezing, cooler temperatures are expected on Friday with a high in the 5o degree range. Temperatures will remain in the mid 50s throughout the weekend, remaining a few degrees below average temperatures for this time of year.
Heading into next week, temperatures may climb above the typical seasonal high by Wednesday.