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Dry winter raises concern about early spring fire season in Minnesota

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Snowmobilers and other winter-weather lovers aren’t the only ones longing for more snow this year.

Doug Miedtke, a Department of Natural Resources fire management specialist, said if the dryness continues, the spring fire season in Minnesota could begin earlier and fires could be more intense.

The state’s drought task force is meeting Thursday to examine the dry weather conditions, which have raised concern for many, including farmers and fire watchers. The task force includes experts in agriculture, forestry, public water use, emergency response and other fields.

"We want to be prepared for what might happen if we don’t get additional precipitation," said Jim Japs of the DNR’s waters division.

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National Weather Service statistics show it’s been a dry winter so far.

The Twin Cities snowfall through Wednesday was the third-lowest on record.

St. Cloud has received only 6.8 inches of snow all winter — one-fifth the normal amount. Rochester received 28.6 inches of snow — still 7.8 inches below normal. Duluth has received 22.8 inches — 35 inches below normal.

The weather conditions can be blamed on a drought that has persisted since May. In addition, the jet stream has pushed snowstorms toward the south this season.

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