Soil moisture keeping wildfire danger moderate

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - They say the grass is always greener, and this year, with all the rain we've had, it's taller, too.

Grasses are high after all the wet weather but fire danger remains moderate.

Does that mean we're looking at fire danger now that the temperatures are rising?

Turns out the wildland fire danger will remain low for some time even if the weather stays hot and dry, officials say.

The record rainfall we've seen has fueled an explosion of growth in all kinds of grasses. When the grasses dry out, they can burn and spread wildfires. But right now, there is still plenty of moisture in the soils to keep the grasses happy and fire danger low for weeks.

"We're still seeing well above average precipitation," said State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo. "And this time of year we really need to see drought conditions, or at least some short term precipitation deficits, to get big wildfires across Western South Dakota."

Clabo says there's one thing that some fire officials are keeping an eye on. That's the boom in Sweet Clover, the yellow flowers taking over hillsides all across the western South Dakota this year.

In its early growth stages, the clover doesn't present a serious fire hazard. But come September when the flowers drop off and the plant dries out, there is potential the dense stands could pose a threat.