By NEMS Daily Journal
The National Weather Service in Memphis has issued two cautions about dry weather, heat and outdoor fire danger as high summer temperatures and widespread lack of general rainfall persist in the region.
Add that forecast to the already officially “abnormally dry” descriptive used on drought monitoring sites, and the need for caution and postponement of intentional, controlled burning becomes the plainly wiser course.
Mississippi Forestry Commission District Forester Stacy Lewis said on Monday that no “burn bans” have been issued or requested by counties but that conditions call for extra cautions.
Lewis said state foresters monitor dryness measures daily, and because of prolonged heat and lack of rain, fire risks are increasing.
Lewis said any county’s board of super- visors seeking a burn ban should call forestry offices.
The weather service’s Website reported Monday that weather conditions “may result” in elevated fire danger this afternoon across the region covered by the Memphis office – parts of northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, the Missouri Bootheel and a small portion of northern Alabama.
The weather service also issued cautions about dehydration for people who may be outside for prolonged periods for the rest of the week. Heat indices as high as 105 degrees are expected through the weekend.
The weather of course is beyond control, but advanced science and technology used by the weather service and professional foresters can help moderate the effects of heat, humidity and near drought, including preparations based on forecasts.
Weather service forecasters said in a hazardous outlook statement that little or no rain is expected during the next two weeks, with soil drying rates of one-third inch per day.
The National Climatic Data Center (www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate) shows some parts of Mississippi, excluding most of Northeast Mississippi for now, having moved into drought conditions this season.
The weather service advisory includes advice for urban areas indicating lawn and garden watering, including popular vegetables. Tomatoes, the advisory said, will not set fruit in extreme heat without watering.
The broader impact involves heat and dry weather’s damage to cash crops – row crops, pastures and livestock feed production. As soil moisture vanishes the stress increases, yields can be reduced and, in worst-case scenarios, crops are lost.
Fire danger also increases to forests, one of the strongest sources of agricultural income in Mississippi. As the forest floor and its deadfall become drier the fire danger increases.
Staying informed can help everyone avoid some dry-weather damages, and key information is available at several different websites, including www.drought.gov.