26 Apr 2024

Fire warnings amidst Marianas drought

2:40 pm on 26 April 2024
Dry grass - generic Central Otago

FOR WATER TAX story - Generic Central Otago Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The National Weather Service (NWS) has reported the drought situation of the Northern Marianas has intensified.

Last week, the NWS weekly regional outlook report stated the Marianas remained in D-2 (or severe drought) with the caveat that drought conditions will only continue to worsen due to ongoing dry weather conditions.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, in a previous statement, encouraged community members to be cautious especially when burning, as all it takes is a small spark to ignite an uncontrollable fire.

"It's getting hotter here in the CNMI, and DFEMS would like to remind everyone during this drought that a lot of the vegetation is just fuel for our wildland fires," it said.

"Please be cautious when burning and throwing cigarette ends out in the open. It just takes a single spark to turn green into black and night back into day."

Meanwhile, the Saipan Tribune reported as of Wednesday, the NWS reported that D-4 (or exceptional drought) persisted across islands of Yap State and Majuro, and the northern Marshall Islands.

"Extreme to exceptional drought persists across the Marianas, Yap State and the northern Marshall Islands," the service said.

It said there was much-needed rainfall this week across the region south of 8N, including Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae and Majuro; and Yap, Ulithi and Fais could have seen some showers as a disturbance passed by to the south.

"But overall dry weather will prevail in the coming weeks."

In addition, NWS warned about an ongoing wildfire threat.

"A high wildfire threat remains for islands in ongoing dry conditions, particularly the Marianas and Yap proper," NWS said.

"Remember: all wildfires in our region are human-caused, and conditions are particularly dangerous during prolonged dry, sunny weather, and windy conditions."

As for weather conditions, NWS stated that a dry trade-wind pattern will persist through the weekend, with only a few light showers and moderate trades.

"Moderate trades and combined seas of four to six feet will prevail through the weekend for the coastal waters, with a moderate risk of rip currents along north and east facing reefs," it said.

"A red flag warning is in effect for [the Marianas] due to a very high fire danger. This is due to gusty daytime winds, low humidity, and ongoing dry conditions. Any fires that develop could spread rapidly," said NWS.

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