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Fires feared after record heat and drought

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yucatan fires
A NASA image from May 2016 captures numerous fires burning over the Yucatán Peninsula. Fires are outlined in red. February to May is the dry season in this part of the world, and these fires may be intentional agricultural fires set to prepare for the upcoming growing season, or they may be accidental forest fires.

Mérida, Yucatán — After the hottest and driest January in years, now come fears of wildfires.

Six months of drought have combined with the hottest January in 25 years, with a statewide average temperature of 24.2 C./ 75.6 F.

Yucatán’s warmest January in history was not too far off from the previous record set in 1991 at 24.6 C.

This was also the driest January in 11 years, with just 18.8 millimeters of rainfall across the state.

You have to go back to 2005 to find a drier January in recent history, with barely 3 mm of rainfall on average.  

The weather service reports barely 1.3 mm of rain in February so far, short of the historical average of 31.6 mm. Less-than-normal rainfall is predicted for the entire first quarter of the year.

These factors have left vegetation very dry and susceptible to fires. February to May is Yucatán’s dry season, when accidental wildfires are most common. Farmers also traditionally burn land to clear it for future crops.

Source: Sipse

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