Fox News Weather Center

Dry pattern to offer no wildfire relief across southeastern US

As crews continue to battle the massive West Mims Fire, mainly dry weather will worsen the wildfire and drought situation across the Southeast into late May.

Severe to extreme drought conditions from southern Georgia through the Florida Peninsula has left the region a tinderbox since the beginning of the year.

The largest active fire in the region is the West Mims Fire burning in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge near the Florida-Georgia border.

The blaze, which is only 12 percent contained, has grown exponentially to over 140,000 acres since being sparked by a lightning strike on April 6, according to InciWeb.

West Mims Fire from space

In this satellite image captured by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite, smoke from the West Mims Fire is being swept off the east coast of Florida on Saturday, May 6, 2017. (Image/NASA)

The fire-ravaged area could use several days of a soaking, steady rainfall to help chip away at the drought, contain ongoing blazes and completely alleviate the wildfire danger.

Unfortunately, only a few days of sporadic rainfall are anticipated across the Southeast into the end of the month.

Scorching, record-challenging heat in the middle to upper 90s F will build ahead of a storm early this weekend.

Southeast dry into late week

“There will be some showers and thunderstorms [from Friday night into Saturday], but not nearly enough rainfall to break the drought,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Maggie Samuhel said.

The showers and thunderstorms will be hit or miss in nature, with some areas completely missing out on the beneficial rainfall. Still, any wet weather and increase in humidity will help to temporarily moisten the parched ground and vegetation, and suppress ongoing wildfires and smoke in the area.

“The storm system that will move through the Southeast Friday and Saturday represents the best threat for rain across the region over the next seven days,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Michael Doll said.

While temperatures will be knocked down closer to seasonable levels behind the storm, dry weather will build back in and quickly dry out any brush that may have been dampened by rainfall.

Southeast little relief this weekend

“Beyond Saturday and through next week, storm systems will not take a path into the Southeast,” Doll said. “Instead, they will get deflected north into the Ohio Valley.”

A breeze at times will whisk smoke and haze from ongoing wildfires hundreds of miles away, leading to poor air quality well removed from the fire’s origin. Those with respiratory illnesses may need to stay indoors.

“Overall, it will be a struggle to get appreciable rainfall across the Southeast during the last half of May and the rainfall deficit will likely grow,” Doll said.

With no end to the wildfire danger in sight, residents and visitors should take extreme care to prevent more blazes by avoiding outdoor burning, barbecuing and parking cars over dry brush, as well as properly extinguishing cigarettes and matches.