County Wide Burn Ban Lifted

By Brian Besch
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In an emergency session of the Polk County Commissioners Court on Wednesday, the countywide burn ban was lifted.

Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts said information he was provided allowed him to make the recommendation that county commissioners accepted.

"What goes into that is a KBDI index, which is a drought index," Pitts said. "We get it from the forest service which plays a part in it and from there we try to take a look at what the long-range weather forecast is and get recommendations from the forest service and local fire departments."

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is an index used to determining forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.

The drought index ranges from 0 - 800, where a drought index of zero represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions. Presently, this index is derived from ground-based estimates of temperature and precipitation derived from weather stations and interpolated manually by experts at the Texas Forest Service (TFS) for counties across the state.

"As a whole countywide, we are in a lot better shape," Pitts said. "Right behind that, I will say that there are parts of the county that still have a bit of concern. What you do with the index is get a high reading, a low reading, and the average. The north part of the county is a lot drier than the rest of the county. But the county as a whole is much better. We will continue to monitor really close and if we need to, we may go back to it."

Pitts said commissioners contacted him, asking for research into factors that could possibly lift a ban that has been in place since Aug. 11.

"The commissioners decided it was worth meeting and making a decision today," Pitts said. "They felt like it was time."