Why this year's brush fire season might be the worst some counties have seen

Practice tips below to help prevent fires around your home

Posted on @FFS_Orlando/Twitter
Posted on @FFS_Orlando/Twitter

ORLANDO, Fla. – After seeing one of its warmest and driest years on record, Brevard County is one the areas expected to see an active brush fire season.

"When you average the highs and lows throughout the entire year, the annual temperature in Melbourne ran about 3 degrees warmer than normal," News 6 meteorologist Candace Campos said. 

Those numbers put 2018 as the second-warmest year on record, and just about 0.1 degree shy of being the warmest year on record.

For rainfall, the reporting station at the Melbourne airport received only about 36 inches of rain, according to Campos. That total ran about 15.5 inches below average, making it the fifth-driest year on record.

Campos said the combination of the abnormally dry and warm year in Brevard County is cause for concern as brush fire season begins in Florida. 

"These drier conditions also stretch to neighboring areas, including southeast Osceola County and Indian County," Campos said.

A moderate drought is in effect for most of these areas into south Florida.

The numbers below break down how other reporting stations ranked when it comes to their annual temperatures and precipitation.

2018 Temperatures vs. Average

  • Orlando: 73.9 degrees (+1.1 degrees) -- Ties for the seventh-warmest year on record, along with 2013, 2011, 1998, 1929 and 1921
  • Melbourne: 75.5 degrees (+3.1 degrees) -- Second-warmest year on record, just shy of first place in 2017 of 75.6 degrees.
  • Daytona Beach: 72.2 degrees (+1.3 degrees) -- Ties with 2013 for 10th-warmest year on record.
  • Sanford: 73.7 degrees (+1.0 degrees) -- Fourth-warmest year on record

2018 Rainfall vs. Average

  • Orlando: 51.55 inches (+0.82 inches)
  • Melbourne: 36.42 inches (-15.58 inches) -- Fifth-driest year on record
  • Daytona Beach: 63.54 inches (+13.92 inches)
  • Sanford: 48.44 inches (-3.24 inches)
  • Clermont: 61.03 inches (+10.40 inches)
  • Leesburg: 49.67 inches (-1.52 inches)
  • Titusville: 53.38 inches (-0.61 inches)

Brush fire season typically runs from late February through May. The drier months of the year, along with lightning from the daily afternoon thunderstorms, create the perfect recipe for wildfires in Florida. 

Lightning, which runs at about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, could easily strike a dried-up wooded area and spark a brush fire. Some brush fires are also man-made. Sometimes, a simple spark from a lit cigarette or leftover campfire could create a dangerous situation. 

"Hopefully the situation won't worsen thanks to a weak El Niño in place," Campos said. "Usually this pattern brings above normal rainfall with near normal temperatures as we head into the wet season."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, you can practice some of the following tips around your property to reduce the risk of brush fires nearing your home:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, porches and decks
  • Remove dead vegetation within 10 feet of the house
  • Remove flammable materials within 30 feet of your home, including garages and sheds
  • If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained -- if it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity
  • Enclose under-eave and soffit vents or screens with metal mesh to prevent ember entry into your attic. 

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