Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak Possible this Spring

Texas A&M Forest Service and the National Weather Service have identified an extremely dangerous fire weather phenomena known as a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak, or SPWO, and are watching for it to occur in portions of Texas this spring.

The environment conducive to an SPWO is characterized by dry vegetation, dry west-southwest winds across an area with low relative humidity, above average surface temperatures, an unstable atmosphere and clear, sunny skies.

SPWO events happen more often during La Niña years, which the Climate Prediction Center has forecasted to continue through the spring of 2021.

Historically, La Niña conditions translate to warmer than normal, and drier than normal, conditions for Texas during the winter and spring months. Increasing the potential for high impact wildfire weather and SPWO events.

An SPWO event is a force of nature, and much like a hurricane or tornado, it cannot be stopped. Since 2005, SPWO fires account for 3% of reported wildfires but have accounted for 49% of the acres burned.

Source: Texas A&M Forest Service

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