Significant portions of the U.S., including Mississippi, are in the grip of a prolonged, devastating drought.
Severe to exceptional drought conditions cover a swath of the state drying up ponds, lakes and rivers and the parched soil is unable to sustain plant life. Months of excessive heat and drought have caused the Mississippi River to fall to record low water levels, limiting barge shipments up and down the river and threatening drinking water supplies in some Louisiana communities. Agriculture and livestock have also been harmed. Soybean and cottons yields were down, and cattlemen have had to reduce or sell off their herds after pasture grasses died.
The hot, dry weather has also contributed to one of Mississippi’s worst fire seasons. While there is a partial state-level burn ban in effect, the Mississippi Forestry Commission is asking the public to remain attentive, comply with burn bans, and avoid doing anything that could start a wildfire. The slightest spark can cause a wildfire. Even small things like throwing cigarette butts out of a car, dragging chains, or other towing mechanisms down the street behind a vehicle can cause a fire.
If you start a fire, you can be held accountable or fined for damages. Since August 1st, the MFC has responded to over 1,030 fires, which burned over 16,000 acres. MFC wildland firefighters and their partners have protected approximately 1,885 structures from wildfires.
To stay informed about burn bans and obtain tips for wildfire prevention, please visit the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s website at mfc.ms.gov. Our local electric utilities have also implemented wildfire mitigation measures to protect electrical equipment and the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s website at mfc.ms.gov.
Local electric utilities have also implemented wildfire mitigation measures to protect electrical equipment and the public.
In addition to its normal vegetation management practices, Entergy Mississippi has indicated that its crews are:
patrolling power lines in high-risk areas and proactively trimming trees and vegetation;
removing overhanging limbs and engaging in proactive vegetative management to protect equipment;
restricting work vehicles from driving on and entering into areas with dry grass, except for essential purposes.
Please note that utilities can only address vegetation that is located within its right of way. However, the drought could have an adverse effect on trees outside of the right of way, causing them to break and fall into lines creating sparks that can cause a wildfire. If you see something that could pose a fire threat, call your local electric utility service provider. To report a wildfire in Mississippi, call the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s Central Dispatch Number at 1-833-632-3473.
If there is other imminent danger, call 911. There are indications that a strengthening El Niño may bring significant rainfall over the winter months. Generally speaking, winters during El Niño, particularly stronger ones, tend to be wet across the South and Gulf Coast. However, it is important to acknowledge that the drought and the underlying dryness will persist until then. Deciduous trees are shedding their leaves and pine mortality is spreading across the state. It only takes one spark to start a wildfire in these conditions. Please continue to exercise caution and be fire aware as the state continues to experience extreme dry conditions.See a typo? Report it here.