Severe drought, high winds make Ozarks a tinderbox; relief on the way

Missouri and Arkansas firefighters have battled several wildfires in recent days, their work made more difficult by winds gusting to nearly 30 mph while blowing bone-dry air.
Much of the Ozarks is already in severe drought conditions, prompting fire officials to urge people not to burn anything outdoors.
"For our fall season, from September through November, we’re 3 1/2 inches below normal for rainfall," said Gene Hatch, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Springfield.
Hatch said fire crews have been fighting wildfires north of the Reuter area in Taney County and another fire east of West Plains near Winona.
Those have been contained but were not completely out, Hatch said.
At the Buffalo National River, fire crews have been working to extinguish a blaze in the steep hills near Pruitt Landing.
Hatch said firefighters could get a break overnight.
A cold front is forecast to bring a 50 percent chance of up to a 1/2 inch of rain across southwest Missouri and northeast Arkansas, along with much higher humidity levels.
Wind gusts up to 33 mph Tuesday afternoon will ease overnight to less than 10 mph on Wednesday.
Eastern Missouri is unlikely to get much rain, but Hatch said higher humidity levels should help reduce the wildfire risk.

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