La Nina contributes to wildfire threat in mid-South, Plains

This April 5, 2016 photo provided by Landon Cates, volunteer firefighters from the Dewey County Task Force work a blaze southwest of Freedom, Okla. Oklahoma Forestry Services Director George Geissler says arcing power lines are to blame for the blaze in northwest Oklahoma, located about 170 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. (Landon Cates/Leedy Fire Department via AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The La Nina climate phenomenon in the south Pacific Ocean is contributing to weather conditions that are expected to be warm and dry with low humidity, leading to fears of a sharp increase in winter wildfires from the mid-South across the Plains states.

La Nina leads to above normal temperatures and less precipitation, combined with abundant dormant grasses and drought conditions in states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows extreme drought in all or parts of more than a dozen counties in western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma state Climatologist Gary McManus compares the potential weather scenario to that in March, when wildfires in northwestern Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and the Texas Panhandle scorched a total of more than 2,000-square-miles and left six people dead.