From Record Highs to Frigid Winter in New Year
Lawton, Ok. – Texoma residents who were enjoying playgrounds, taking down holiday decorations and other outdoor activities with some record-setting highs in the 80 degree range on January 2, were chilled to the bone by a weekend cold front's effects bringing single digit windchill readings to the area by the morning of January 5.
Unfortunately, people who live in many areas of western and southern Oklahoma plus north Texas saw just a trace if any precipitation to end the conditions for high fire danger with the front's passage.
For example, the Lawton area ended the 2003 year about six inches below normal precipitation. And parts of south central and southeast Oklahoma had their lowest precipitation reported in 40 years. Clinton had its driest year in 37 years, and parts of north Texas came in some 7 1/2 inches below normal precipitation.
According to Lawton Fire Chief Bart Hadley, the city does not usually have to contend with many grass fires but conditions are dry enough at this point to make that a good possiblity.
Hadley notes they often have problems this time of year with people thinking their fireplace embers are out before disposing of them by their appearance. However, he stresses that often there is enough heat left to spark a fire.
Hadley said people should dispose of smoking materials properly to help avoid grass fires.
He also noted people using candles in their homes and apartments can be a problem, with units called out to extinguish some blazes apparently started by candles over the holidays.
"People using candles should never leave the room and thus leave them unattended. They should also make sure there are no combustibles near burning candles, said Hadley. "And even shelves above them can catch fire from their heat."