Rising Temperatures and Dry Conditions Threaten Mount Rushmore Fireworks
Contact: Amy Bracewell, 605-574-3147
Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-574-3147
MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. — Forecasted hot temperatures and dry conditions have officials at Mount Rushmore concerned about the status of the planned July 3rd fireworks show. Fuel moisture levels are half of what they were last year, when last minute rains allowed the program to go forward. This year’s weather forecast through July 4 calls for higher than normal temperatures and little or no precipitation.
“We are carefully monitoring fuel moisture levels and weather forecasts to determine if conditions will be within allowable limits to start the fireworks,” said Superintendent Gerard Baker. “If conditions are outside acceptable limits, such as winds greater than 15 mph, the fireworks show could be delayed up to 10:15 p.m. Tuesday evening or postponed until July 4th.”
An Environmental Assessment completed by Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 2003 outlined the steps necessary to be completed before beginning the fireworks show. The plan also outlined the weather and environmental conditions under which the display can safely take place. A complicated “Go/No-Go” checklist containing entries for weather and predicted fire behavior must be reviewed and signed just prior to the start of the show. If conditions are not acceptable either July 3 or 4, the show will be cancelled for the year.
Fire behavior and weather experts will be available to analyze fuel and weather conditions prior to the show’s start. They will look at years of historic weather and fire data using the latest computer models. This analysis is augmented by current data from the memorial’s fire weather station and an extensive on-site survey of the forest at Mount Rushmore. This will provide park managers with solid information on conditions necessary to safely proceed with the fireworks display.
There will also be resources from a number of surrounding volunteer departments on duty in and around the memorial Tuesday night to ensure the safety of park visitors, employees, and area residents.
For current information concerning the status of the firework show, please call the Memorial at 605-574-2523 and press 5.