South­east mostly drought-free, Alabama and Ge­or­gia wors­en­ing

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Staff re­ports Edi­tor Kevin Myrick contributed to this As­so­ci­ated Press re­port lo­cally.

The South­east­ern United States is mostly free of drought, but a new fed­eral as­sess­ment shows con­di­tions are wors­en­ing slightly in Ge­or­gia and Alabama.

A new map re­leased by the U.S. Drought Mon­i­tor last week showed about one-third of Ge­or­gia is ei­ther ab­nor­mally dry or in a mod­er­ate drought. About one-quar­ter of Alabama has the same prob­lem.

Sta­tis­tics show both states were less arid the week be­fore. The big­gest prob­lem ar­eas are south­east­ern Ge­or­gia and north­west­ern Alabama, where mul­ti­ple coun­ties in each state are ab­nor­mally dry.

Con­di­tions are ei­ther un­changed or im­prov­ing in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and South Carolina.

Fore­cast­ers say a broad area of mois­ture as­so­ci­ated with the rem­nants of Hur­ri­cane Willa had the po­ten­tial to spread rain across the re­gion last week as it moved east­ward. The area did get show­ers, though by last Fri­day it was more driz­zle than down­pour.

Polk County’s con­di­tions in the fields as the cot­ton crop was com­ing in and har­vest sea­son wrapped up were still dry over­all, ac­cord­ing to Polk County Ex­ten­sion Co­or­di­na­tor Ricky Ens­ley.

Ens­ley said that a pro­longed pe­riod with­out steady rain­fall has left the county some .75 inches be­low where it should be in the wa­ter table for 2018. Con­di­tions weren’t quite as bad as in 2016, when a long drought that lasted from the early sum­mer through to the early win­ter pro­moted con­di­tions for wild­fires.

“I checked with the Rome based weather sta­tion. Ac­cord­ing to that sta­tion we have had 2.29 inches of rain in Oc­to­ber,” he said. “We pre­fer to av­er­age an inch per week”

He did no­tice the prob­lems when he was busy at work help­ing the Cedar­town Tree Com­mis­sion with a forth­com­ing plant­ing.

“I re­al­ized to­day (Oct. 25) how dry our soil was when we dug some holes for trees in Peek’s Park,” Ens­ley said in an e-mail. “The top 2 inches of soil was dry. This should not af­fect plant growth. The farm­ers would like for it to be dry for a few days as they har­vest corn and cot­ton.”

/ Photo contributed Auburn

A black bear looks out of a trap he was caught in by a re­search team from Auburn Univer­sity.

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