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How rain helps with short term fire danger, but not so much with drought

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 21:21:22-04

Summer thunderstorms are a mixed bag.

Rain helps drought, but not much.

Rain helps fire conditions a lot, though the impact is temporary.

READ: Tracking the latest on Utah's wildfires

Lightning is a problem, especially when it comes without rain — a common occurrence in Utah.

Shelby Law studies storms and their fire impacts in order to predict them for wildland firefighters in the Eastern Great Basin Region of the U.S.

"We don't make great strides at reducing drought in the summer but if we don't get rain the drought is going to get worse,” Law said from her office at the Great Basin Coordination Center.

WATCH: Salt Lake Valley fire chiefs ask residents to skip personal fireworks

The rain that fell Thursday and Friday in parts of Utah helped diminish the short-term danger of fires.

The most common natural cause of fires in Utah is lightning, and before the latest showers, Utah’s “lightning ignition efficiency” was off the charts. That’s a measure used by the Wildland Fire Assessment System to evaluate the fire starting potential from lightning striking the ground.

Here are the maps evaluating lightning ignition efficiency before and after this week’s rain:

"When the vegetation is extremely dry like we've had, your lightning efficiency causing fire is really high than it is for a few days after a precipitation event," said Law.

Earlier this week, FOX 13 reported in-depth on how fire managers evaluate the fuels available for wildfires to burn through. View the full report here:

READ/WATCH: Utah's fire danger highest in the U.S. because of dry fuels