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Dry Anchorage in April triggers fire concerns

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Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage has enjoyed a dry spring so far, but that same dryness is prompting fire concerns.
“You can step on the ground and get your foot wet, but what’s on top will still burn,” said Anchorage Fire Department forester John See.
Permitted burns have been suspended, and campfires and burn pits on the ground are not allowed, See said.
Barbecues and backyard portable fireplaces with screens that are at least a foot off the ground are allowed, the Anchorage Daily News ( reported.
See says he expects campground fire pits to be approved for use and expects the fire department to issue an update by this weekend.
Anchorage’s official rainfall for April was 0.04 inches as of Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“There hasn’t been a lot to fall out of the sky,” meteorologist Michael Kutz said. “Normally we get a whole bunch more rain in April.”
The normal rainfall for this period is 0.47 inches.
Officially, 2014 was tied with 1950 for the seventh driest April on record.
It’s nowhere near the dry periods in April 1938 and April 1969, which tied for the record with only a trace of precipitation. It was nearly as dry during the same month in 1931 and 1957, when 0.01 inches of rain fell.
The temperature this April has been higher than normal, according to Kutz. The average high temperature is 46.7 degrees so far, warmer than the normal high of 44.5. On April 22, a one-day record was set with a high of 58 degrees.
Low temperatures, however, have been lower than normal, 28.6 degrees compared to the normal low of 29.1.
Adjusting for the number of days and averaging the highs and lows, this April comes out at 37.6 degrees, according to Kutz. That’s warmer than the normal 36.8 degrees, but far from the warmest average April temperature of 41.6 recorded at Merrill Field in 1940.

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