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Firefighters, farmers keeping eye on moderate drought conditions

With 22 days without rain, there’s reason to take notice.
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 6:39 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Each morning, Jared Burchett and other Wichita Falls Fire Department members hop on their computers to see how busy Mother Nature will keep them at their job. And, while there’s no indication that massive wildfires are on the way, current conditions are being noted.

“Right now, we have an unseasonably warm temperature,” Burchett said. “Tomorrow is going to be 82 degrees forecasted, and if you add a little bit of wind gust behind that everything is ready to go up.”

Over the past few months, the U.S. Drought Monitor has tracked Wichita County from no drought conditions to abnormally dry conditions, and now, moderate drought conditions.

“The State of Texas is unique,” Burchett said. “Depending on what part of the state you’re in, is there even a fire season?”

Burchett said the wind causes the most damage with current conditions, in terms of spreading of fire. When there is no wind, the biggest threat becomes things like discarded cigarettes, dragging chains from cars, blown tires, and other instances of human error.

And, when it comes to possible drought-like conditions, you have the charts, but you can also throw those out, especially if you’re a farmer. Most of the time, they’ll walk out to their field, take a look at the soil and see what Mother Nature is telling them.

David Graf of Texas A&M Agrilife said that in addition to soil samples, crops recently planted in Wichita County are having trouble growing their roots into the ground because of the moderate drought.

“When you’re in farming and ranching, you take every day as it comes and you just assume the worst,” Graf said.

Assuming the worst in these conditions also means expecting insects. Because crops may become distressed from the current conditions, green bugs may take advantage of the situation, causing even more headaches.

“We can go in and help spray to control insects but part of that is expenses,” Graf said.

So, whether it’s spraying insects or pumping up your flat tire, the main takeaway is that when things get dryer, don’t let Mother Nature make your job harder.

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