Fire risk warning as region set for driest April on record
- Credit: Norfolk Fire Service
Norfolk is set for one of its driest Aprils on record prompting warnings over tinderbox conditions that could spark wildfires.
An abnormally dry March followed by a bone-dry April means there is a higher than normal risk of fires breaking out in open areas.
Strong winds could exacerbate the spread of any fires that do break out.
The last few weeks have seen fire crews called to deal with several woodland and grass fires including in Caister, Thetford and King's Lynn, together with blazes sparked by people carelessly disposing of barbecues in dunes near Great Yarmouth and in woods near Diss.
Outdoor socialising with people using fire pits and patio heaters has also prompted warnings.
A blaze started by a fire pit that got out of control spread to adjoining gardens and caused damage to four houses in Norwich.
Greg Preston, head of community safety for Norfolk Fire and Rescue, said: "It's very dry, and it is going to pick up. I don't think there's a great deal of rain forecast for some time. It's not particularly hot but it's so dry out there.
"The different way in which we're socialising at the moment is going to be more of a risk. People are outside more and because it's dry but not very warm people are using these things.”
Most of west, mid and south Norfolk, as well as areas of Waveney, are currently under a Met Office Fire Severity Index (FSI) of level three, high fire severity.
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The FSI is an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start.
It has been one of the driest Aprils on record with the UK seeing less than a fifth of the average rainfall for the month so far.
There has been an average of 12.8mm of rain up to April 22, much lower than the April average of 72.53mm, according to Met Office figures.
A typical April in the UK would have had 70pc of its rainfall by now, but it instead has just had 18pc.
Adam Drury, of Norwich-based forecasters Weatherquest, said: “March was about 80pc of normal rainfall in Norfolk, so below average but not anything like as extreme as April will probably turn out to be.”
The region could see some rain this week though April is still on course to be the driest on record.
“West Norfolk could see a little bit of rain on Tuesday afternoon and evening, but this is likely to be small amounts and not everywhere,” said Mr Drury. "Otherwise it will be Thursday afternoon and Friday when there could be some light showers for Norfolk and more widely across East Anglia.
“Daytime temperatures will still be below average for this time of year. It might warm up to closer to the average for this time of year by the middle of next week.”
The driest April on record across the UK was in 1938 when 14.1mm of rain was recorded, followed by April 1974 when 14.6mm of rain fell.