Wildfires, water restriction result of worst drought
By Alton Mitchell, originally posted on November 17, 2016
The talk of the town right now seems to center around rain or more so the lack of it in the local area. As LaFayette and Chambers County has faced burn bans, wildfires, and now water restrictions the hope of rain in the local area still appears to remain low in the local area.
Over the past week hazy and smoky skies have filled the local area. These are the results of wildfires burning across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina that are spreading south from their origins. The wildfires are the result of a regional drought that has plagued the five state region.
Those wildfires have torched more than 80,000 acres of land and resulted in evacuations in many areas. Smaller wildfires have sprung up right here in the local area and that was a fear several weeks ago when the state of Alabama placed a burn ban in effect across the entire state of Alabama. The ban originally only covered north and central Alabama, but the prolonged drought conditions have now resulted in all of Alabama’s 67 counties being placed in a burn ban.
That burn ban means that outdoor burning is limited, and state officials are taking the restrictions very seriously. Those who are found to be in violation of the burn ban can face a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. The pockets of violators can go beyond the $500 fine as any fees associated with fighting a wildfire that a violator may have started can be charged to the violator. This can include manpower hours as well as equipment charges.
LaFayette last week took steps to limit water consumption in the city of LaFayette as water sources for the city are beginning to run low. Outdoor watering restrictions have been put in place across the LaFayette to attempt to conserve water in the city.
LaFayette is in the brunt of the drought. All of Chambers County is in what is now called a D4 drought status. That status is also known as an exceptional drought. East Central Alabama and Western parts of Georgia find themselves in this classification. This is the same designation that southern California finds itself in. Conditions in all three areas are similar as waterways are drying up including rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds. This is the situation that has led to LaFayette officials closely monitoring the water situation.
The upcoming forecast remains dry in the near future for LaFayette and Chambers County. The city averages around 54.53 inches or rain per year. Much of the rain this year was received in the early parts of the year when the New Year was ushered in with flooding across the area and springtime showers. The past several months have been dry with LaFayette seeing its last trace of rainfall on October 16th. In the upcoming seven days LaFayette looks to not even receive a trace as rainfall chances remain near the 0% chance. In the meantime Forestry officials continue to warn that even the smallest spark or flame could spark a massive wildfire.