Hurricane Dolly Could Cause Fires

Most people know Hurricane Dolly's biggest threats are flooding and wind damage.But what many people may not realize is officials worry Dolly could fuel wildfires in central and north Texas. Laurie Johnson explains.
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.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...