Forecasted conditions again raise fears of wildfires

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

The National Weather Service is again warning of a high risk of wildfires in York County.

In a special weather statement for Thursday, the service's State College office said all of central Pennsylvania, including York County, is at an elevated risk of wildfire spread because of dry and breezy conditions. 

Dry leaves and tree debris can fuel wildfires once ingnited.

York County last week issued a burn ban because of dry conditions. 

Thursday's forecast for York County is for a high temperature near 84 degrees and a low near 52. 

Relative humidity values will be in the 20% to 30% range, but wind gusts will generally be below 15 mph Thursday, which would limit the threat of rapid spread on flatter areas. 

The weather service said the greater threat would be on steeper, south-facing slopes of ridges. These areas will have the greatest warming and drying of the leaf litter that fuels wildfires. 

While Thursday’s conditions are ripe for an elevated risk for wildfire, Friday’s weather conditions could be worse. The weather service says that winds out of the south and southwest could increase by 5 mph to 10 mph, increasing the threat of spread. 

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Friday’s forecast calls for a high temperature near 90 in York County, with winds between 5 mph to 11 mph during the day and into the evening. Friday’s low will be near 61. 

Residents are urged to exercise caution when handling any potential ignition sources like machinery, cigarettes or matches. If dry grass and tree litter begin to burn, the fire will have the potential to spread rapidly.  While the wildfire threat is higher for the next couple of days, there's a chance of rain on Saturday. 

Showers are likely, with a possible thunderstorm after 2 p.m. Saturday. There is an 80% chance of rain with rainfall amounts between a quarter and half an inch possible. Otherwise, it will be breezy, with winds between 11 and 21 mph and gusts up to 34 mph. The high temperature will be near 77 and the low around 51. 

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Sunday’s chance of rain will be around 30% before 8 a.m. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 63 and a low around 41.