(Switzerland County, Ind.) – Lack of rain has left the tri-state’s vegetation parched and heightened the threat of wildfires.
According to the National Weather Service, the Eagle 99.3 southeast Indiana listening area has received between one inch and one-half inch of rain over the past 30 days.
In another sign of just how dry the region has become, Switzerland County Commissioners Monday placed the county under a burn ban. The order restricting the use of outdoor fires and burning of debris will be in effect until further notice.
Switzerland County is the 30 Indiana county to begin a burn ban, but the only county so far in the Eagle 99.3 listening area according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
"Even in jurisdictions not currently under a ban, everyone needs to exercise additional caution to avoid sparking a fire this fall," says DNR State Fire Supervisor Drew Daily. "Always consult your county commissioner's office, or local sheriff's office if you have any questions about permissible burn practices in your area."
Last Friday, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet issued a Level One Drought for most of northern Kentucky, including Boone County. The Level 1 declaration means moderate drought conditions have set in and plant health is being affected.
The extended period of dry weather is also being noticed by local farmers as they harvest crops.
Agriculture experts say intense heat this summer combined with little rain in the late growing season may mean a lower yield for soybean crops. An early growing season with plentiful rain resulted in the bean plants growing shallower roots.
Purdue University says some early harvest bean fields may yield well, but later-planted beans will show the effects of dry weather.
Dry Weather Fire Safety Tips from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security:
. Store firewood and all other combustibles away from your home.
. It is advisable to avoid burning trash during dry weather, but if you must, and if permissible, burn trash in a safe incinerator that includes: heavy mesh screen with holes not much longer than 1/4 inch, and a metal barrel in good condition.
. Have a hose nearby to help put out the fire if it gets out of control.
. If any fire starts to spread, contact your fire department or 911 immediately.
. Never park your vehicle on dry grass or leaves.
. Avoid driving through tall grass.
. Make sure spark arresters on the internal combustion engines of off road vehicles are clean.
. Never throw a lighted cigarette out the window of a vehicle.
. Never walk off and leave a burning cigarette.
. Use ash trays.
. Perform proper maintenance on agriculture equipment to prevent overheating.
. Grease trailer wheels, check tires, and ensure safety chains are not touching the ground.
. Be careful with gas lanterns, barbeques, gas stoves, and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire.
. Remember, sparks from chainsaws, welding torches, and other equipment can cause wildfires.
NWS Observed Precipitation - http://water.weather.gov/precip/