BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — While Western New York is enjoying the nicer weather, that doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind when it comes to outdoor activities.
In New York State, an annual burn ban is in effect for much of Spring, from March 16 through May 14.
The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation says open burning is the number one cause of wildfires in New York. Since the spring burn ban was first implemented in 2009, the state says wildfires have dropped by more than 40 percent.
Right now probably isn’t the best time to have a campfire, but New York State says these, as long as they don’t grow above three feet in height and four feet in length, are allowed.
The National Weather Service says part of the region south of places like Buffalo and Batavia will have an elevated fire risk on Wednesday. This includes Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Southern Erie counties.
“Drying fuels, lower relative humidity values, and gusty winds will lead to elevated fire weather concerns this afternoon through early this evening,” the National Weather Service said.
News 4 Meteorologist Mike Cejka says an extremely dry air mass in the region is partially to blame for the elevated fire risk.
“What ends up happening is the relative humidity kind of drops more during the daytime period. It gets down into the 30 percentile,” he said.
That, combined with possible wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour, can spark a wildfire. But Cejka says there are steps people can take to reduce the risk of these.
Hoping that people don’t forget about the burn ban, Cejka says it’s advised that people stay away from burning any type of vegetation.
“We’re early in the Spring season, so a lot of the vegetation is still dead at this point, or just starting to grow, and we have a lot of leftover brush from the previous growing season,” Cejka says. “So, that’s dry; it’s just ready to go to flame, obviously, if a flame is introduced to it.”
The temperatures are building as the weekend gets closer. You can see the latest 4Warn Forecast here.
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.