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Fourth of July expected to be hot and dry

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

The National Weather Service predicts that Independence Day will be hot and dry with low humidity, so let the celebrations begin.

The party cannot, however, include bottle rockets and other rocket fireworks due to a ban by he Alabama Forestry Commission as part of its fire alert due to the drought, Forestry Commission spokeswoman Coleen Vansant said Monday.

The thunderstorms of the past weekend did not drop enough precipitation to end the driest year on record. U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, said Monday that U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has designated the entire state as a primary natural disaster. Farmers in all 67 counties are now eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.

Meteorologist Steve Shum-way of the weather service's Huntsville office said he expected the scattered thunderstorms to move out on Monday.

He projected that Tuesday and Wednesday will be dry with high temperatures near 90.

"The heat index depends on the dewpoint, which right now looks like its going to be low," Shumway said.

"If it is low, the heat index will be near 90."

The storms were truly scattered this past weekend, although most got at least a little precipitation.

For example, Falkville got only 0.01 of an inch on Sunday, the first day of July, while Athens got 0.46 of an inch and Fort Payne received an amazing 5 inches.

Somerville was top rain recipient during June with 4.35 inches and Falkville got 3.16 inches. Moulton was the driest, with only 0.86 of an inch.

Shumway said the varied precipitation numbers are a sign of typical summertime weather. The jet stream is in Canada, so the cold fronts are strong enough to bring the widespread rain that North Alabama needs to end the drought.

"Summer is usually hit and miss," Shumway said.

Thunderstorms like those in the past few days do little to break the drought.

Shumway said the heat and wind evaporate the water before it can deeply penetrate the extremely dry soil.

After the celebrations end, Shumway said, the rain chances increase at the end of the week and into the weekend as a cold front moves into the area.

Precipitation data

Location Month of June July 1

Athens 1.78 0.46

Decatur 1.73 0.29

Falkville 3.16 0.01

Moulton 0.87 0.00

Pence 4.35 0.30

Town Creek 2.26 0.13

Whitesburg 3.32 0.91

- Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Geological Survey

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