Measuring Mississippi drought - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Measuring Mississippi drought

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Before a burn ban is put in place, the Mississippi Forestry Commission measures the drought through what's called the Keetch Byram Drought Index.

"It's a specific drought index that measures fire potential so it takes into effect the soil moisture, what the plants are taking out of the ground, so all this goes into that number," said Bill Kitchings with the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

The index rates fire potential from 0 up to 800. Right now Mississippi is between 600-and-700 on the scale. That's right where we were last year during a drought that lasted four months.

We are approaching 60 days without measurable rain in central Mississippi.

"Were getting up into the high levels of the drought index which means you can have severe wildfires spotting from these wildfires, so things are getting really dry," added Kitchings.

The answer is rain, and lots of it.

In the meantime, officials are asking people to heed the burn bans, and don't light any fires.

"We don't want to lose any properties," said Hinds EOC Director Ricky Moore. "We don't want to put any firemen lives in jeopardy out there in this heat battle; woods fires, grass fires, its not necessary right now."

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, since September 1, 2016, the Commission has responded to and suppressed 501 wildfires that burned 4,375 acres. During this time, 825 homes, commercial structures, and outbuildings threatened by wildfire activity were saved by MFC wildland firefighters.

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