Earlier this week, Richland County was updated from “abnormally dry” to “incipient drought” status by the South Carolina State Climatology Office due to the continuing lack of rainfall across the Midlands since Tropical Storm Irma affected the area Sept. 11-12.
“The upgrade has occurred because since Irma, rainfall across Richland County has measured between three to four inches,” said Ken Aucoin, Richland County Emergency Planner and Chief Meteorologist. “Over this same 11-week time period, historical rainfall amounts should approach nine inches - meaning we are 40 percent less in terms of precipitation.”
With any prolonged stretch of dry weather, safety issues can arise.
“While we enjoy the beautiful late fall and early winter weather, the public should take precautions until a more normal rainfall pattern returns,” Aucoin said.
As the dry weather pattern persists, residents are reminded to use extra caution when burning debris or grilling. Keep a water hose nearby to reduce the risk of spreading fire and be aware of whether a burn ban has been issued. Immerse charcoal in water until the coals cool down, and do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it unattended. Additional safety tips include:
- Don’t throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and produce a wildfire. “Also keep in mind gas lanterns and sparks from chainsaws can very easily cause fires during extended dry spells,” Aucoin said.
- Remember, never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.