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It’s dry; be careful

July 16, 2012
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

Thank goodness for Sunday's rain, because the low water levels and dry grass had gotten very worrisome.

The East and West branches of the AuSable River were shockingly low Saturday, and the hills of the Saranac Lake Golf Club in Ray Brook were starting to look like the yellow hills of California.

We're relieved a nearby forest fire is mostly out along the train tracks between Ray Brook and Lake Placid. For that, we're grateful to our valiant local firefighters and forest rangers, along with the inmates of the Moriah Shock prison and those with the Adirondack Scenic Railroad who helped them. By Saturday night, they had beaten the fire back to "patrol" status, and then the rain came.

One good rainfall isn't enough to raise the water table much, however, so unless a lot more falls soon, expect a dry summer, not unlike the drought years of the 1990s. There were some wicked forest fires then - for example, one on Noonmark Mountain that burned 90 acres of wilderness down to the bedrock.

This is serious, and we urge you to take it that way.

There's never a good time to toss a cigarette butt or walk away from a "mostly" put-out campfire, but really, if you've been known to do such things, stop now. The ground and brush can ignite pretty easily, and your carelessness could result in terrible damage as well as a strenuous, dangerous and expensive effort by your local firefighters.

Westerners might laugh at our anxiety over a 2-acre wildfire, and yes, with the Colorado River drying up and multi-thousand-acre wildfires rampant out west - more than 2 million acres have burned there, compared to 23 acres in the Adirondacks - it's good to put our situation in perspective. The West tends to be more a more extreme environment than the East, except for our winters, and Easterners can't always relate to what goes on out there. Now it's easier to understand.

The causes are the same. We got very little snow this year, and have had little rainfall since, and it's been hot.

In the Southeast, too, a drought has been going on for many years: in Georgia, Alabama and perhaps worst of all, Texas.

In Europe, meanwhile, it's raining and flooding like crazy. There are also floods and mudslides in Japan.

There has always been freakish weather, but now the data points, more than ever, to the conclusion that the planet is warming. There were 3,215 daily high temperature records set in June, and 15,000 in March, according to TIME magazine's Bryan Walsh. June 2011 to June 2012 was the hottest 12-month period on record in the U.S.

It's almost overwhelming, but not quite. One is tempted to think, "Well, there's nothing I can do about it," but there is. Whether you're convinced about global warming or not, you can still be aware, be careful and be conscientious.



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