MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – While much-needed rain is moving across Alabama for the first time in a while, it won’t be enough to lift the state out of a drought, officials are cautioning.
“Even though we are getting precipitation, we will dry out again; probably until December,” said Assistant Forest Fire Management Officer Drew Page of the USDA National Forests in Alabama.
Alabama has seen a growing number of wildfires due to drought conditions. The Alabama Forestry Commission has responded to 238 wildfires since Oct. 1, which account for 2,257 acres of burned land.
More rain is expected in the next week, but while it’s being welcomed, the USDA says there are still concerns lightning strikes from thunderstorms could pose a significant danger to bone dry areas of the state.
The AFC is maintaining a statewide fire alert that was extended to an undetermined date on Friday. Under a fire alert, permits for outdoor burning are restricted. Anyone caught burning a field, grassland, or woodland without a burn permit may be prosecuted.
“While rain is currently falling in various locations, we will have to wait and see the precipitation totals statewide and then re-evaluate in the next day or so,” said AFC Public Information Manager Elisha Ballentine. “Although this most appreciated rainfall has assisted in providing vital moisture, it will take a substantial amount of rain to bring us out of drought conditions and potential wildfire danger.”
Bottom line? “Today’s rain has been very beneficial, and we have another rain chance early next week. That’s the good news. The bad news – it took us weeks to get IN to a drought – and it will likely take weeks to get OUT of it,” according to WSFA First Alert Chief Meteorologist Josh Johnson.