News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Burn bans in place as drought continues

By Ronnie Thomas and Bayne Hughes 353-4612

North Alabama residents should be aware that a burn ban is in effect as a drought continues to dominate the state's weather.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management issued a ban for 12 counties, including Morgan and Lawrence counties, until October.

While ADEM didn't put every county under its ban, the Alabama Forestry Commission placed all of the state's 67 counties under a fire alert, which restricts the issuing of burning permits to "individuals with burning experience and above average control equipment."

Priceville Fire Chief Charles Black said his department doused a brush fire Tuesday morning and that the resident said he didn't know about the ban. The fire occurred at 2723 North Bethel Road.

Black said a call came from a resident on Upper River Road about black smoke in the area. He said firefighters arrived on the scene at 10:05 and left 16 minutes later.

"We informed him that the ban was in effect through October," Black said.

The extremely dry weather is keeping area fire departments busy. A Limestone County 911 Center spokeswoman said her county has had 23 grass and woods fires since May 13. A spokeswoman for the Morgan County 911 center said her county had 22 in the last seven days. A Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman said her county had 14 in the past week.

How dry is it? The National Weather Service says the area is 17.11 inches below the normal total of 27.69 inches for the first five months and five days of the year. The area is even behind last year's paltry 19.8 inches for the same period.

The Valley had only two days (Jan. 21 with 1.29 inches and April 14 with 1.26) with rain totals over 1 inch.

Meteorologist Robert Boyd of the NWS office in Huntsville said current predictions do not forecast any rain through Tuesday.

He said newer weather models are saying, however, that North Alabama could get rain late Thursday or early Friday as a cold front from the Northwest moves into the state and meets moisture from the Gulf.

Boyd said some computer models are giving as much as a 30 percent chance through the weekend.

"I wouldn't give the chance more than 30 percent because it's going to take a lot to break this drought," Boyd said.

Area voters approve

A majority of voters in Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties followed the rest of state Tuesday in passing two constitutional amendments. Voter turnout was about 10 percent in all three counties.

Morgan County

  • Amendment 1: Yes, 4,244 (65.26 percent); No, 2,259 (34.74 percent).

  • Amendment 2: Yes, 4,831 (74.36 percent); No, 1,666 (25.64 percent).

    Limestone County

  • Amendment 1: Yes, 2,308 (57.8 percent); No, 1,686 (42.2 percent).

  • Amendment 2: Yes, 2,804 (70.0 percent); No, 1,203 (30.0 percent).

    Lawrence County

  • Amendment 1: Yes, 1,344 (64.4 percent); No, 744 (35.6 percent).

  • Amendment 2: Yes, 1,537 (73.2 percent); No, 564 (26.8 percent).

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