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Acreage adjusted in Great Lakes Fire; climate change contributing to weather conditions that make wildfires more likely

Annette Weston-Riggs
PRE News & Ideas
File: The Great Lakes Fire in the Croatan National Forest

A new report shows the Great Lakes Fire in the Croatan National Forest burned slightly less acreage than initially estimated.

Officials now say that after more accurate mapping, 32,156 acres burned in the fire, 244 fewer than previously thought.

Work continues to monitor hot spots and make road repairs.

Meanwhile, climate change is contributing to a nationwide increase in the number of days with weather conditions that make wildfires more likely and more intense, including in parts of North Carolina.

Forest fire danger grows when temperatures rise, relative humidity falls and wind picks up. A lack of rainfall and drought conditions also contribute, says researcher Kaitlyn Trudeau with Climate Central.

“The change in fire weather days seems to be largely driven by an increase in dry days, so where the relative humidity is hitting its low threshold,” she said.

Climate Central analyzed weather data from 48 states and found the biggest increases in the West. Some places now have up to two more months a year of fire weather conditions, compared with 50 years ago.

Parts of the East are also affected, such as North Carolina's Northern Piedmont. It had 19 fire weather days last year and now has an average of 13 additional risk days each year.

Other areas with increases included the state's Central Coastal Plain, with 10 additional fire weather days and Southern Coastal Plain, with eight more days.

Meanwhile, risk isn’t growing in some areas because of more favorable weather conditions.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to