With the recent lack of rain and snow (for weeks and weeks now), even last week's rain only made a small dent in the deficit. It's really dry, folks, freakishly dry for this time of year. The National Weather Service has issued this warning:
Fire Weather Warning for Cook, IL
From 11:00 AM CST, Sat., Mar 10, 2012 until 6:00 PM CST, Sat., Mar 10, 2012
Issued by The National Weather Service
* When a Wildfire Threatens
...* What to Do After a Wildfire
* Prepare for Wildfires
* Facts About Wildfires
* More Information About Wildfires
... RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 11 AM CST /NOON EST/ THIS MORNING
TO 6 PM CST /7 PM EST/ THIS EVENING FOR LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND STRONG
WINDS FOR NORTHERN ILLINOIS AND NORTHWEST INDIANA...
* AFFECTED AREA... ALL OF NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST ILLINOIS ALONG WITH NORTHWEST INDIANA.
* WINDS... SOUTHWEST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH.
* TIMING... LATE MORNING THROUGH LATE AFTERNOON.
* RELATIVE HUMIDITY... 20 TO 25 PERCENT.
* IMPACTS... CONDITIONS WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR THE RAPID GROWTH OF WILD FIRES.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE
EITHER OCCURRING NOW... OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG
WINDS... LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY... AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE
EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
With the warmer weather, an accidental spark from a backyard barbecue or a cigarette could have a much greater impact than is normal for this time of year.