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Ivey lifts burn restrictions for 55 counties

After increased rainfall, Gov. Kay Ivey this week lifted the statewide ‘No Burn Order’ for 55 of Alabama’s 67 counties, primarily in the southern half of the state.

Ivey first issued a statewide Fire Alert on Oct. 24 due to drought conditions, upgrading the order to an outright ban on all controlled burns on Nov. 9. Between the Fire Alert and the statewide ’No Burn Order’ being issued, firefighters with the Alabama Forestry Commission responded to 352 wildfires that burned approximately 3,200 acres across the state.

Since the issuance of the statewide ban on controlled burns earlier this month, wildfires decreased dramatically, with AFC firefighters responding to just 86 wildfires that burned 278 acres. In total, AFC firefighters have responded to 760 wildfires affecting more than 7,800 acres since Oct. 1.

Of the 55 counties that saw the ‘No Burn Order’ lifted on Wednesday, 23 of them – all in the northern half of the state – were downgraded to Fire Alert status, where controlled burns are permitted via the issuance of one-day burn permits. 

The remaining 33 counties – all south of Greene County – saw all burn restrictions lifted, which the AFC attributed to an unequal distribution of rainfall.

Just 12 counties, which stretch from Jefferson to Cleburne counties, are still under a total burn ban, and will remain so at the discretion of AFC State Forester Rick Oates.

The ‘No Burn Order’ remains in effect for 12 of Alabama’s 67 counties.

While October is typically Alabama’s driest month, this year has been particularly dry, with the entire state receiving an average rainfall of 1.4 inches, far less than the 20th century average of 2.83 inches. The single-driest area in the state this fall was near Huntsville, which recorded just .19 inches of rainfall in October.

According to WVTM Meteorologist Stephanie Walker, this year’s dry season is among the driest ever recorded in the state, and were there to be little to no rainfall through the end of November, it would become the driest fall in the state since weather records began in 1930.

Meteorologist Geoffrey Heidelberger, who’s worked with the National Weather Service for seven years, told Alabama Daily News Wednesday that at least in Huntsville,  it’s been a particularly dry fall.

“It’s definitely on the drier side compared to normal years, I think this is the driest since 2016,” Heidelberger said. “Typically in the fall, starting Sept. 1, we get about ten inches of rain through this time of year, and we’re over six inches short in Huntsville.”

As to whether the burn ban in the northern part of the state may be lifted in the coming days, Heidelberger said based on the current forecast, such an action seems unlikely.

“There really isn’t too much opportunity for heavy rainfall; we may get some, but probably only a few hundredth to maybe a tenth (of an inch) over the next seven days,” he said.

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