The new year opens in Southwest Missouri with at least three more days of warm, dry and windy weather, the kind of conditions that have officials urging caution about fireworks and outdoor burning.
The National Weather Service has posted a fire-weather watch through this afternoon for six counties in the southwestern corner of Missouri (Barry, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Stone). The watch also covers Cherokee County in southeast Kansas.
A lack of rain and snow has left Joplin especially dry, and temperatures are expected in the upper 60's today and again on Tuesday. Wind gusts of up to 34 miles an hour are also predicted both days. Similar conditions have helped fuel massive wildfires on grasslands in Oklahoma and Texas. Forestry supervisor Duane Parker of the Missouri Conservation Department says fires would spread a bit more slowly in forested areas of Southwest Missouri.