Dry September Worrisome for Foresters

You have heard me say it for years. If my daughter wants an outdoor wedding, I would hesitate to agree, but if I did I would insist it must be in September or October. Naturally, I would draw up contingency plans for a cold rain, but fact is the traditional dry season is fall and September and October are the driest, sunniest months of the year ON AVERAGE.

Days like Saturday at Chilifest and Sunday at Poage Landing Days with Tar Heel blue skies and a refreshing feel to the air are the speciality of these two months. Crisp overnight lows in the 40s and 50s, quickly turn into warm afternoons with highs in the 70s and 80s. It’s no wonder I have scheduled 15 of my 20 vacation days this year for the fall. Daaa! No brainer!!

This year, unlike most, fall is beginning on the heels of a drought summer. Alan Sowards, District Forest Director out of Milton, says his staff and all foresters are holding their breaths. “So far 43 mainly small fires have occurred in the western district in August and September and we are not even to fire season yet. Unless we get frequent rains, we are fearful of a bad fire season”. Alan’s dilemma is easy to explain.

The leaves are turning prematurely in the mountains of West Virginia. Don Kelly, forester out of Beckley, reports the change is on-going and the leaves are in some cases going from green to brown. That means they will fall faster and be fuel of a careless match quicker.

Since October is warmer and windier than November (the winds of November are colder and wetter, not necessarily weaker), the stage appears set for a very bad fall fire season. That puts the onus on everyone to use common sense and cut back on burning leaves and other vegetative materials. Remember, it is illegal to burn trash 365 days a year.

With the next 10 days expected to be hot and dry (well 80s by day are hot), we will be in dire need of rain by October 1st for the start of the season. I will keep you posted.

One final note, fall foliage season figures to be shorter than normal as the leaves turn color, then brown quickly. An early frost followed by a windy spell could bring the leaves down by mid October.
Dry conditions and the threat of forest fires has caused emergency officials in Martin County, Kentucky to impose a burning ban. The ban goes into effect Wednesday, September 19th at noon.

The Martin County Emergency Management Office asked for the ban and County Judge Executive Kelly Callaham signed the order Wednesday.

Martin County, along with most of Eastern Kentucky is suffering through drought conditions this summer.

A burning ban is already in effect in Pike County, Kentucky.