Drought conditions worsen

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

As Alabama’s drought emergency continues to expand, Pike County residents are becoming more mindful of the dangerous conditions.

The Office of Water Resources added 18 counties to its list of emergency-level drought conditions on Tuesday after an October that saw little rain for the state.

According to the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Pike County only received 0.02 inches of rain during October and most of the state had less than one inch of rainfall.

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Although Pike County is one of the counties that has not yet been included in the emergency-level conditions, the county is under a Fire Alert and could soon be put under a “No Burn Order.”

The drought conditions also are causing an increase in brush fires. The Goshen Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD) responded to a series of fire calls in Henderson on Monday and Tuesday, resulting from the dry conditions.

“It was several fires spread out over a mile or a little more,” said Mark Miley, chief of the GVFD. “We’re not really sure what caused it. People would drive by and see spot fires that weren’t really going anywhere, but people were doing the right thing by calling.”

Although that series of fires took up some time for the department, Miley said that the month hasn’t been anything unusual.

“We’ve been real lucky so far,” Miley said. “I guess a lot of our people are being more cautious then normal. People burn things in their backyard, but we haven’t really seen that yet this year. We’re trying to keep a watch though so if we see someone starting a small fire we can ride by and tell them that they shouldn’t be doing that.” Miley said that things could get worse though, with the forecast not showing much rain anytime soon.

“I’m afraid if we don’t get some rain pretty quick it may get bad,” Miley said. “And you’re not talking about getting any significant rain soon. That’s not a good thing.” Troy Fire Chief Michael “Buford” Stephens said that the city has also not had a noticeable increase in brush fires during the month and advised that there is a burn ban in the city limits at all times. Meeksville Fire Chief Lewis Davis said that fires have increased in the area during the month. He advised that residents should not be burning anything outdoors whether there is a technical burn ban or not.

“I wouldn’t advise burning anything outside with the dry conditions and the wind the way it is,” Lewis said. As of October 27, there had been 1,028 wildfires across the state according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Davis and Stephens both said they expect a burn ban to be officially issued by the state for Pike County soon if rainfall doesn’t come. The U.S. Drought Monitor for Alabama shows Pike County partially in a severe drought with the other half in a moderate drought. And conditions will only worsen if rain doesn’t come soon.

Forecasts from various outlets don’t look strong for rain in the upcoming week, and what little rain makes it into the forecast won’t necessarily lift the drought conditions.