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Experts: Snowfall not enough to end fire danger, drought

OKLAHOMA CITY – With all this winter weather, many people are wondering what this means for our wildfire threat.

NewsChannel 4 learned that it’s actually not doing much.

Gary McManus, an Oklahoma climatologist, said, “Oh no, especially not during the cool season.”

Although we’re being hit by snow this week, it doesn’t mean wildfires won’t threaten neighborhoods again, and soon.

He said, “We can have snow and rain one day, and the next day, with a strong wind and low relative humidity, you can have wildfire danger right back.”

McManus says January had so many days of low humidity and strong winds, which sapped the ground’s moisture.

That combination caused those winter wildfires to return.

The colder it gets this week, the more likely we’ll see the dry, powdery snow, which carries less moisture.

He said, “So, a good snowball-making snow is generally going to contain more moisture.”

Generally, it takes about 10 inches of snowfall to equal one inch of rainfall.

In February of 2011, a record 27 inches of snow fell in just 24 hours in Spavinaw, Okla.

That amounted to a little over an inch of rainfall.

However, McManus said it depends on the type of snow that falls.

He says the drought that is plaguing farmers in western Oklahoma is going to continue.

He said, “It’s simply going to take rainfall, after rainfall, after rainfall to get those folks back to what we’re seeing across the eastern half of the state.”

McManus doesn’t believe this next round of snowfall is going to be a drought buster either.