No rain here; drought conditions cited

Published 3:56 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

Covington County is under a fire alert and is considered abnormally dry after a dry September and no rain in the month of October so far.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update put the entire state under some type of drought condition.

That’s the first time since March 2011 that the entire state has been under some type of drought condition.

Gov. Robert Bentley issued an outdoor burn ban for 46 of the northern counties earlier this week, but the Forestry Commission took it a step further, placing the entire state under a fire alert.

A fire alert means that weather conditions are conducive for an abnormal amount of wildfires.

The Alabama Forestry Commission issued a fire alert for the county earlier this week.

The Drought Monitor labels Covington County as abnormally dry.

According to the Choctawhatchee Pea and Yellow River Watershed Management Agency, there has been no rain for the month of October in any of its 22 monitoring sites, which include Yellow River at Hwy 55 and Yellow River at Hwy. 84.

That’s the least amount of rainfall at Yellow River at Hwy 55 for October since the organization began posting the totals in 2007.

What does the fire alert mean?

This allows the state forestry commission to restrict the issuing of burning permits. During a fire alert, only certified prescribed burn managers with adequate manpower and equipment may be issued a permit.

What does the dry weather mean for local farmers?

“I have not heard many farmers saying anything about this county,” Farm Service Agency’s Josh Headley said. “If we go a few more weeks without rain, we will definitely start to see some problems for local farmers. Right now though, most row crop farmers are OK with the fact that it is not raining because they are trying to gather their crops.”

Headley said the drought this time of year is mainly affecting cattle and livestock farmers.

“I have heard a few mention that they are having to start feeding hay a little earlier because of the lack of rain,” he said. “In the event that Covington County goes into a severe drought the Farm Service Agency will offer a livestock forage program assistance to help farmers with the cost of supplementing feed and hay for livestock.”