Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Recent rainfall across the state has led officials to rescind the statewide drought emergency “no burn” order which had been in effect since early November.

“Although all counties in the state will return to having burn permits available, we should bear in mind that Alabama like much of the South is still experiencing extreme drought conditions this fall,” Interim State Forester Gary Cole said. “The AFC will continue to monitor ground moisture levels throughout the state. If ground fuels become exceptionally dry again, it may be necessary to re-issue a Fire Alert or No Burn Order in affected areas.”

On days as rainy as Monday was, it is easy forget how little rain has fallen on South Alabama this fall.

The Choctawhatchee Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority recorded zero inches of rain in Covington County in October, and only a total 0.16 inches at its 22 measuring points in the same period.

In November, the Choc-Pea Authority recorded 0.84 inches at the Yellow River on Hwy. 55, compared to 11.72 inches in the same period last year. At the Yellow River on Hwy. 84, 1.18 inches of rain was recorded in November, compared to 11.39 inches last year.

As of 8:30 p.m. Monday, the authority had recorded 3.44 inches at Yellow River at Hwy. 55 in December, and 2.84 inches at Yellow River at Hwy. 84. That compares to 10.08 and 16.33 inches respectively in the month of December of 2015, which brought Christmas Day flooding.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Forestry Commission advises anyone conducting any type of outdoor burning to follow safety precautions such as not leaving a fire unattended until it is completely out, having the necessary equipment and personnel to control the fire, and having a garden hose or other water supply on hand for smaller debris burns. Any fire more than a quarter-acre in size or within 25 feet of a forested area requires a permit from the AFC. Burn permits may be obtained by calling 1-800-392-5679. Burning without a permit is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $3,000 fine.