Watertown sees record high temperature, dry weather means fire risk

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Dry conditions have caused temperatures in the north country to soar. The dry heat is pretty popular with the folks we spoke to, but first responders say it could raise the risk of fires

In Watertown, temperatures hit a record high on Friday. The National Weather Service reports the thermometer hit 89 degrees, breaking the 1970 record of 87 degrees.

“It’s really hot actually. We were sweating the whole time. Me and my buddy were running out of water. We had to buy more water because we were drinking it all up,” said Daylin Traud.

Capitalizing on the lack of humidity, folks took to Thompson Park, with several schools taking field trips for some fun in the sun. At least one park-goer says it feels a lot better when it’s drier.

“I don’t like the humidity. It messes up my hair and feels gross,” said Aiden Breckenridge.

In Watertown, temperatures topped even Miami on Friday. According to the National Weather Service, we can directly thank dry conditions for that.

“Any type of sun that you get incoming gets translated directly into temperature instead of evaporating into water,” said Mike Fries, NWS meteorologist.

Dry heat does come with an increased risk of fires. Mulch is highly flammable and can be ignited through spontaneous combustion or the flick of a cigarette.

The Town of Watertown Fire Department had to respond to a pair of mulch fires Thursday in front of Kohl’s and Target - cigarettes being the most likely culprit.

“I know that there’s been some significant grass fires and brush fires in the county. We’ve been fortunate here that we haven’t had one. I’m saying it’s probably just a matter of time,” said Fred Sourwine, fire district manager.

The department’s recommendation is to be incredibly cautious around campfires and be mindful of where you discard any cigarettes.