AUSTIN, Texas — More than 130 fire reports were sent in across Central Texas on the Fourth of July, and the recent drought conditions likely played a big role in that number.
It's no secret that drought conditions continue to escalate. Much of the Hill Country remains under "extreme" or "exceptional" drought conditions even after some beneficial rainfall last week.
Dry brush and fuel only make it easier for wildfires to develop and spread, especially when you throw in the added spark from fireworks. So, how big of a difference did this year's dry weather and drought conditions make? Let's look back to last year.
In 2021, the Austin Fire Department responded to 27 total fireworks-related calls on July 4. That means this year's call number was more than quadruple the number from 2021 – which makes perfect since when you look at the weather and the state of the drought a year ago.
For starters, it poured rain across the Austin area on July 4, 2021. Camp Mabry in Austin recorded 1.3 inches of rainfall, with a high temperature of only 86 degrees. Wet ground makes it much more difficult for fires to develop, and stormy weather may also prevent some from venturing out to do fireworks in the first place.
This year was nearly the exact opposite: bone-dry with a high temperature of 101 degrees.
Rainfall the day of makes a huge difference, but the drought comparison is also stark. The drought monitor for July 4, 2021, shows zero drought conditions across the Austin area with only a small portion of the Hill Country experiencing "abnormally dry" conditions.
Fast-forward a year later and much of the Austin metro is experiencing "severe" to "extreme" drought, with much of the Hill Country under "exceptional" drought conditions.
The KVUE Storm Team will continue to closely monitor the ongoing drought.
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