According to the National Weather Service’s drought monitor, Logan County is in the grip of a severe drought because of a lack of normal rainfall over the last five months.
The latest drought monitor map of Arkansas shows that severe drought covers nearly all of Logan County, with the exception of far eastern Logan County, which is listed as being in a moderate drought.
Officials contacted last week about the situation were aware of it, monitoring it but mostly weren’t panicking because of the hope that with the onset of spring weather will bring spring rains. The situation caused Logan County Judge Ray Gack to issue a burn ban last Friday morning. Dustin Krigbaum of the Arkansas Forestry Commission office in Logan County has cited dry conditions as the reason for an increase in wildfires. Bob Harper of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service said farmers and ranchers are watching the situation closely.
Harper said that a drought now is better than in the summer.
“Of course, we need rain,” he said. “Farmers might take this as an opportunity to plant corn early. If it doesn’t rain in the next month or two, ranchers are going to have to keep feed hay. I’m hauling water right now to my cows.”
Krigbaum said the situation is starting to look like 2012.
“Right now, we’re not at 2012 levels as far as wildfires go but that where we are headed if we don’t get rain,” he said. “2012 was the worst year for wildfires since 1980.”
Krigbaum said that the area is averaging about 10 fires a month since September.
“That’s a higher level than we’ve had in several years,” he said. “Fire danger now is as high as we’ve had since 2011 and we’re headed for another 2012 if we don’t get rain. 2012 was maybe the worst fire season ever in Logan County.”
Krigbaum also said that as of Friday, the Arkansas Forestry Commission has suspended its winter controlled burn season in District 6, which includes Logan County.
“That’s the first time I can remember in the last 10 years that we’ve suspended our controlled burn season,” he said.
But, there may be relief on the way, if you trust the NWS forecast for the rest of the month.
There was a 90 percent chance of rain Tuesday.
After that, there’s a 40 percent chance Monday and several days late in the month where the forecast calls for a 30 percent or greater chance of rain.