CORNING, N.Y. (WENY)-- This winter came in as the warmest across the country and the 4th warmest at the Elmira site. Today was another day with much of the Twin Tiers recording temperatures that are well above average (in the 50s and 60s). These unseasonably mild temperatures increase the fire risk during the fire season.

'' We've had a strong El Nino and we are still on the backstage of that. What that has given us is well average temperatures and that trend is likely to continue, said Marck Pellerito, Lead Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Binghamton.

The El Nino phenomenon occurs every seven years when the Equatorial Pacific becomes warmer than normal. El Nino winters are typically warmer than normal, which is a major reason why this winter came in as very mild.   

'' The mild winter resulted in lack of snowpack in our area, making the dead foliage from last season much more susceptible to fires the next few months,'' said Mark Pellerito. 

This winter was not just mild, it was wet. Mr. Pellerito said that the warm and wet combination likely to speed up the arrival of the spring vegetation. Frost is still possible through mid-May, which would kill the vegetation and increasing the fire threat. 

Due to these conditions, the Department of Environmental Conservation is advocating extra vigilance even before the 'Burn Ban' goes into effect on March 16th. The Burn Ban remains in effect through May 14th.  For more information, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation website.