Alabama is ablaze, literally and figuratively. Several weeks in a row, the South has seen very little rainfall and very intense heat. Now, that weather is coming to a head, as numerous wildfires rip throughout the state of Alabama. In the last thirty days, Alabama firefighters have beaten back almost 200 wildfires.
The sudden burst of late-summer heat and the lack of rainfall has contributed to suddenly-spiking drought conditions. Just a few weeks ago, the region was listed as “abnormally dry.” Now, most parts of Alabama and Georgia are considered to be “moderate drought” conditions, meaning that the region is ripe for wildfires.
What Causes Drought Conditions?
A combination of meteorological factors are at play when an area is experiencing drought conditions. Primarily, a lack of precipitation over a long period can cause a drought in any region.
In the South, the current drought has been hastened by the extreme heat and drier climate. The South is usually quite humid throughout the Summer months, but by late September, the air is much drier.
What are the Dangers of Wildfires?
Wildfires, of course, represent a threat to human lives. Windy, dry conditions can cause wildfires to move rapidly across underbrush and dry plant matter. This presents a major threat to homes, livestock, and people. During drought conditions, firefighting becomes exponentially more difficult than during normal conditions.
As the drought conditions worsen, firefighters work to head off potential threats before they become a problem. This includes clearing underbrush from the driest regions, creating fire brakes around residential areas and keeping on high readiness to respond to any flames that pop up.
Other Drought Effects
Drought conditions in Alabama and Georgia are also taking their toll on local ecosystems in more ways than through wildfires. The average water level of lakes in the region is dropping steadily as the high temperatures and lack of rainfall mount. Likewise, crops are withering and farms are having to use extreme amounts of water on irrigation.
This causes a dramatic increase in costs for farms, as well as increasing the amount of work that needs to be done to keep livestock healthy. While some parts of the country are preparing for Autumn snowfall, the Southeast weathers nearly 100-degree weather and drought conditions.