Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

September 17, 2013

Hope there for much needed rain

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — This week’s weather forecast that includes the possibility of rain at least provides a little bit of hope for some much needed wet stuff out there.

Although Garvin County and most of the state got plenty of rain this past spring and parts of the summer, the fact is the dry, drought-like conditions are starting to return.

For one county official here that means a close monitoring of the conditions and the possibility of an outdoor burn ban someday if the return of rainfall isn’t seen fairly soon.

Garvin County’s emergency management director, Bud Ramming, said Monday it is starting to get dry out there thanks to the hot summer temperatures and very little rain over the past several weeks.

Still, the area isn’t anywhere near the level of drought needed to call for a burn ban.

“We’re not in the severe category right now,” Ramming said describing the current drought.

“We are in the moderate category, almost the whole county,” he said.

“We have abnormal, moderate and severe and it gets worse from there. We need to be in the severe category before considering a burn ban.”

Throughout much of 2011 and 2012 the story was far different.

During parts of those years areas like Garvin County were experiencing historically hot and dry conditions.

Then came some welcome relief with a number of quenching rain systems earlier this year.

“We got a lot of good rain this year, but the last couple of years we were so dry we’re just now catching up,” Ramming said.

“There were two or three rains that bailed us out of a severe situation. Now it’s getting dry out there and we’re headed in the other direction.”

The possibility of rain is not the only thing guys like Ramming are looking forward to as a new law is not far away from taking effect.

On Nov. 1 a new law makes some important changes to the criteria for a burn ban.

“It will give myself and the county commissioners more flexibility in calling for a ban,” he said about House Bill 1762.

“In reality we’re not going to put on a burn ban if we don’t have to. But this new law does give us some flexibility.”

It was during last year’s drought when emergency management officials from this region of the state, including Ramming, began discussing the need for changes in the Oklahoma Forestry Services’ criteria for county burn bans.

That led to discussions with election officials and ultimately the legislation that will soon become law.

For Ramming the most important change is it loosens up the criteria, especially when it comes to the number of wildfires or grassfires during a dry period.