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Fourth of July fireworks bans in effect across western US amid drought, wildfires

By By Brett Rathbun, Meteorologist
July 05, 2016, 6:43:53 AM EDT

Recent dry weather paired with the high risk for wildfires has led to firework bans for Fourth of July celebrations across the western United States.

Dry weather since April has caused the entire West Coast to return to conditions that are at least abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“The recent dry weather coupled with dried out or dead vegetation leads to a scenario that will make the use of fireworks very dangerous over the upcoming holiday weekend,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

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In Washington, numerous cities, including Seattle, Spokane and Olympia, have been issued a firework ban or restriction, according to the Fire Protection Bureau.

A fireworks ban means that the sale and/or discharge of fireworks is prohibited for a specified time period.

In Oregon, fireworks are not allowed along state beaches and at all state and national parks, according to The Oregonian.

In California, a ban is in place in the town of Salinas, according to KSBW as well as portions of Sacramento County, according to KCRA.


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“Though cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles only average under 2 inches of rain between April 1 and July 4, it has been dry even by their standards," Pydynowski said. “Los Angeles has only received about 25 percent of their normal rainfall while San Francisco has received under 50 percent."

Despite a record rainfall during the winter months, the Pacific Northwest has also been dry as of late.

“Even wetter places such as Seattle and Portland, Oregon, still have only received about 60 to 75 percent of their normal rainfall since April 1,” Pydynowski said.

Those who disobey fireworks bans could face a harsh penalty from local police departments, including a fine or jail time.

Fireworks used in an unsafe area could easily spark a new wildfire. Even outdoor barbecues should be used with caution, especially when used over dry vegetation.

With dry, hot weather expected to continue, more bans could go into effect as the holiday approaches.

With the exception of the Sierra Nevada and a few desert areas in southeastern California, thunderstorms attributed to the southwestern United States monsoon are forecast to generally remain east of California, Oregon and Washington during the first week of July.

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