It sounds counterintuitive. How could a storm expected to dump as much as 15 inches of rain be responsible for wildfires.
Nick Harrison with the Texas Forest Service says it’s hard to conceive how much energy hurricanes generate.
“She’ll pull winds across the state, in an easterly direction. And usually those winds will intensify. But she’ll pull air and increased wind speeds across the state.”
Those winds, combined with some very dry conditions across much of Texas, could cause wildfires to spread rapidly.
Firefighters know this because it happened before.
“When Hurricane Rita came in, actually I think most of Texas had hoped that she would pump moisture all up through the center part of the state. When she pulled more to the east, she drew hot air across the Chihuahuan desert into Texas. And we were already dry in September of ’05 and gave us even more extremely dry conditions.”
Harrison says with Dolly, they’re most worried about the start and spread of new fires.
The Texas Forest Service is responding to 17 uncontained fires this week, some of which could be fueled by the winds.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.