A Severe Drought is Just as Bad as Severe Weather
Not much has happened here at Alabama Weather Prediction, as many of us wait and see when our next good chance of rain will be. We will cover that in a bit, but first we should fix make all of our readers aware of the current drought situation.
- D0 (Abnormally Dry)
- D1 (Moderate Drought)
- D2 (Severe Drought)
- D3 (Extreme Drought)
Due to the severity of the drought, on October 12th Governor Bentley signed a No Burn Order that is in effect until sufficient rainfall is received – and that does not look to be any time in the foreseeable future. A Drought Emergency was also declared for 46 counties and the other 12 were placed under a fire alert:
Typically during this time of the year, it starts cooling off and we start talking about the potential for severe weather. As of now, there is no talk, a talk of a talk, or talking about a talk of a talk for severe weather in the region – right now the only talk is the drought – but there is some good news:
A cold front is going to move through the area tonight, ahead of hit we can expect a few showers and temperatures to drop. This won’t be enough to break the drought, but it is enough to settle the dust down and drop temperatures down to where they should be this time of year. Widespread rain is not expected, but at the very least we will see a decent amount of cloud cover which will give us a break from the 80’s through the weekend.
The Team and I have been inactive as there has not been any “active” weather. “Active” meaning anything to cause you to take any serious precautions or actions. Only thing to keep in mind now is that you may not want to start a campfire if you go camping. For a quick recap, here is what the Drought Emergency covers:
WHAT IS A DROUGHT EMERGENCY DECLARATION?
Section 9-13-141 of the Code of Alabama states: “at such time as the state forestry commission has declared by regulation a drought emergency in any county or counties, it shall be unlawful in such county or counties for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes or to build a campfire or bonfire or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass or woods fire.”
Specifically, the regulation prohibits any prescribed burns, any campfire or bonfire, any trash or debris fires, or any other open burning.
DO THE REGULATIONS COVER BARBEQUES?
The regulations allow barbeque fires for cooking IF the fire is in a grill or masonry barbeque pit, including large barbeque pits used by civic organizations to prepare food. Anyone grilling or barbequing during the Drought Emergency should have water hoses on site to prevent any loose sparks from setting a wildfire, and a circle at least 10 feet wide around the grill should be cleared of any burnable material. Side fires to generate coals for a barbeque must also be within a grill or masonry pit. Gas grills are allowed.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE “CAMPFIRE OR BONFIRE” PROHIBITION?
Campfires or bonfires include any fire that is burned on bare ground, even if surrounded by stones or a metal fire ring. This definition includes campfires, ceremonial fires, ‘council’ fires, bonfires, ‘warming’ fires, and cooking fires that are on bare ground and not in a masonry lined ‘pit.’
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE “TRASH OR DEBRIS FIRE” PROHIBITION?
Trash and debris fires include burning of woody debris, yard waste, garbage, construction debris or any other material, in either an open pit or in a barrel. At this time, people should not burn a debris pile until the Drought Emergency is lifted.
WHAT OTHER THINGS ARE INCLUDED IN THE DROUGHT EMERGENCY?
The intent of the Drought Emergency Declaration is to prevent catastrophic wildfires during drought conditions. No one should use an open flame in or around a woodland setting. At campsites, closed lanterns may be used, but no open flames such as candles or ‘tiki’ torches. Care should also be exercised in suburban areas where lawns are very dry as well.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THESE REGULATIONS?
Under Section 9-13-142, Code of Alabama, anyone found guilty of violating these regulations and improperly conducting open burning in a Drought Emergency-declared area shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $250, nor more than $500, and at the discretion of the court, that person may also be sentenced to the county jail for up to six months.
Additionally, any person burning in violation of the Drought Emergency Declaration will be liable for damages to the property of another and any costs associated with the suppression of said fire. Suppression costs would include equipment and personnel costs related to control or extinguish the wildfire.