No one needs a meteorologist to know Alabama has been in a drought.
According to information released by the U.S. Drought Monitor last week, 100% of Alabama is experiencing some level of drought and the majority of Elmore County is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. The dry, hot days have financially affected farmers in Elmore County.
“This is going to mean more debt for next year,” farmer Richard Edgar said.
Edgar grows row crops and hay in the Deatsville and Holtville communities.
“I do have crop insurance but it has a 35 to 40% deductible,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough road to hoe this year.”
According to Edgar, the hay, corn, cotton and soybeans he grows are yielding half or less than half compared to last year.
“Even if it rains it is too late for row crops,” he said.
A large portion in the northwest portion of the county is facing severe to extreme drought conditions and a small portion centered in the southern part of the county is in moderate drought conditions. No portion of the state reported is considered to be in a state of exceptional drought.
Additionally, the drought has affected fire departments and, to a lesser degree, the county’s engineering department which is responsible for maintaining roads in the county.
According to Wetumpka Fire Department fire chief Greg Willis, his staff has responded to numerous ground cover fires in the city. Responding to those situations reduces the number of first responders available to assist when a car accident or house fire occurs.
“In most cases I see, if people waited to burn a pile of leaves when the conditions were better it would not get out of hand,” Willis said in a previous article concerning the state’s current burn restrictions. “Just wait to burn. It is the neighborly thing to do.”
As for roads maintained by the county, the drought is not too much of an issue.
“Our county sees issues with cracking in roads and foundations in limited areas unlike areas south of us,” county chief engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer said. “We may have some cracking of pavement due to the drought conditions. So far, we have not seen a large impact to date.”
Information released by the U.S. Drought Monitor noted many areas in the Southeast had the warmest and driest September on record, accelerating the drought conditions in the region with dryness going back eight to 10 weeks now with associated high temperatures.
The U.S. Drought Monitor started in 2000. Since 2000, the longest duration of drought (D1-D4) in Alabama lasted 137 weeks beginning on July 27, 2010 and ending on March 5, 2013. The most intense period of drought occurred the week of August 29, 2000 where an exceptional drought affected 77.9% of Alabama land.
WEEK-BY-WEEK PROGRESS (as shown in Drought Monitor report)
- 100% of the state is now considered abnormally dry, up from 82.7% last week
- 35.4% of the state is now in moderate drought, an increase from 30.2% last week
- 12% of Alabama is in severe drought, up from 4.9% last week.
- 3.5% of the state is in extreme drought, up from 0.20% last week