PA Counties Issue Burn Bans
April 7, 2006 -- Don't let the recent rain fool you: much of Pennsylvania is in a rainfall deficit after drier-than-normal conditions over the last couple months.
At least 11 counties, most in south-central and northeastern Pennsylvania, have instituted burn bans because of the dry conditions, according to the state Bureau of Forestry. At least four counties put bans in place over the last week, and several more have voluntary bans.
The moves come with the state in the middle of wildfire season, which typically runs from March to May. Paul Sebasovich, chief of the bureau's wildfire services section, said this year's wildfire season has been relatively normal, with no large fires breaking out.
In north-central Pennsylvania, small wildfires began breaking out in February this year, a month earlier than normal, said Brian Plume, forest fire specialist for the bureau's Tioga Forest district.
Weather conditions this April stand in contrast to a year ago, when much of the state was coping with flooding and heavy rains.
Areas of eastern and central Pennsylvania, where most of the burn bans are in place, are especially behind in short-term rainfall totals, according to the National Weather Service.
For example, before Friday's rain, Centre County had 2.6 inches of precipitation over the last 60 days, about 4 inches below normal. Cumberland County in the south-central part of the state and Monroe County, in the Poconos, were 5 inches below normal.
Rainfall in eastern Pennsylvania is about 50 to 75 percent below normal in the last two months, while the deficit is a little less severe in western Pennsylvania, weather service meteorologist Peter Jung said Friday.
Rain expected for parts of the state this weekend may be a slight reprieve, said Jung, who is based in State College.
"But probably like last time it rained, things will dry out quickly," he said.
The best kind of precipitation are steady, moderate rains that last over a long duration, Jung said.
The groundwater supply may also be at a deficit this season because of a lack of snow melt to seep into the ground. Greening plants and trees in the springtime help may help reduce wildfire threats, but the vegetation also draws from the groundwater supply.
Overall, though, the state isn't near a drought situation, Jung said. In fact, eastern Pennsylvania is a little above normal when looking at the last six months because tropical systems dumped heavy rains last fall. Those same storm systems didn't affect western Pennsylvania as much, and the western half is a little below normal in rainfall over the last six months, Jung said.
Sebasovich, the state wildfire official, urged caution with any resident who had to burn outside, and to check with local and county officials for any limitations. About 98 percent of all wildfires are caused directly or indirectly by people, he said.
"We certainly want to make people aware that a little bit of rain doesn't mean it's time to burn your trash," Sebasovich said. "Prevention is uppermost in our mind right now."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
- 2 couples robbed at gunpoint in North Philly
- Fire forces 11 people from their homes
- Renovation competitors fight at Phila. fire scenes
- Moving day for Oak Lane Garden residents
- SEPTA union agrees to delay strike
- 1 critical after being shot multiple times in Wilmington
- 100 plus weight loss journey to healthy living
- Boyd Theatre to be demolished, rebuilt
- Runway reopens after failed takeoff at PHL
- Photos: Suspects wanted by Philadelphia Police
- Malaysian leader: plane's disappearance...
9 min ago
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos