Pike County in extreme drought

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

Many people in Pike County are feeling the heat as the mercury in thermometers continues to rise.

Right now, areas of Alabama east of Interstate 65 and south of Interstate 85, which includes Pike County, are under extreme drought conditions due to lack of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

NWS lead meterologist Jim Stefkovich explained that rain helps put moisture in soil, and that cools the air down early in the morning. When the moisture evaporates, that action leads to generally lower temperatures.

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With Alabama heading into a usually lean time of year for rainfall, the potential for higher temperatures is that much greater, Stefkovich said.

“The next three months, we’re looking at a 30-40 percent chance that temperatures will be above average,” Stefkovich said. “…and it doesn’t look like it will improve soon.”

A system on the Carolina coast could bring relief, but Stefkovich said forecasters can’t be sure, yet.

With the potential for a hotter and drier summer for South Alabama, residents will have to take extra care to ensure their safety during the high temperatures.

The most immediate at risk are younger children and the elderly, especially those on medications, Stefkovich said. That’s because they might not realize just how much the heat is affecting them.

The NWS recommends keeping a close eye on younger and older family members and neighbors, checking in often to make sure they are staying cool during the summer months.

It’s also recommended that people stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, from about noon to 6 p.m. Physical activity should be kept to the cooler mornings and evenings.

“My basic advice is to stay in the air conditioning as much as possible,” Stefkovich said. “Especially if you’re on medication, stay hydrated with lots of non-alcoholic liquids. Be sure to drink clear fluids, especially water.”

And many people trying to stay cool in Pike County will find their own ways to do so, such as chilling down with some ice cream from one of the shops in Troy. That’s good news for at least one local business.

“We’ve definitely seen more people lately,” Felicia Jones, manager of Milky Moo’s Ice Cream in Troy, said. “When its cooler, sales go way down but as soon as it gets hot they go right back up and this summer has been much, much hotter than usual. Ice cream is our biggest seller right now it’s been making up about half of our income.”

Although temperatures in Pike County have been holding at an average level due to recent rain, the NWS suggests that people continue to prepare for a hotter-than-average summer, just in case the area remains in a drought condition.