Drought

Today is the deadline for business owners in fifteen Alabama counties to get drought relief from Washington.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is taking applications for loans of up to two million dollars at four percent interest. The money would go to business owners who can prove they lost income because of the extreme drought conditions last year.

SBA spokesman Jay McKenna says these loans aren’t for ranchers or farmers, who can get help from other federal agencies.

This year is expected to be a difficult one for Alabama's peach growers.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says farmers are expected to produce only 10 to 30 percent of their usual harvest this year.

The combination of a warm winter, a late frost and the lingering stress caused by last year's drought are hurting crops at some peach orchards. The central part of Alabama is particularly hard hit.

Edgar Vinson, an Alabama Extension fruit specialist, says peaches need a certain number of cold days every winter to produce healthy fruit in the spring and summer.

dry river bed
weather.com

Those in central Alabama hurt by last year’s drought are running out of time to apply for help from the federal government.

The Small Business Administration says April 25 is the deadline for residents of seven Alabama counties to apply for disaster loans related to the drought. Assistance is available for those in Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, St. Clair, Shelby and Talladega Counties, which saw some of the worst conditions during Alabama’s dry spell.

dry river bed
weather.com

A new report shows that widespread rain is gradually relieving the Deep South's ongoing drought, leaving only a handful of counties in Alabama and Georgia with extreme drought conditions.

A national report on the drought released Thursday found that rain drenched a large part of an area that has been abnormally dry, from northern Louisiana to the Carolinas and Virginia.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that about a half-dozen counties in the northeastern Georgia mountains and patches of another half-dozen counties in central Alabama are still dealing with extreme drought.

Southern states still in drought's crosshairs

Dec 8, 2016

The recent rain across Alabama is providing some relief from the ongoing drought, but the dry conditions that have plagued the state are far from over.

The worst of the drought is in central Alabama, including Jefferson County and communities in the eastern part of the state.

John Christy is the Alabama state climatologist. He says the rain has helped but the drought far from over…

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the statewide burn ban which has been in effect since early November is being lifted.

Alabama Forestry Commission officials say the state has received enough rainfall over the last few days to reduce the threat of dangerous wildfires.

Bentley said the forestry commission now believes "the worst of the drought has ended."

Experts: Rainfall didn't end drought in Alabama

Nov 29, 2016

Weather experts say storms that dumped as much as 5 inches of rain on Alabama didn't end the drought.

National Weather Service statistics show as much as 5 inches of rain fell near the geographic center of the state along the Shelby-Chilton county line.

Much of central Alabama got 2 inches of rain, and nearly the entire northern half of the state got at least 1 inch. The southern third of the state got less precipitation.

Latest stats show nearly all of Alabama in severe drought

Nov 23, 2016

The latest federal estimate shows nearly the entire state of Alabama is in a severe drought.

An assessment released by the National Drought Mitigation Center today shows that about 98 percent of the state's land mass is now locked in a severe drought after weeks without rain.

The severity of the drought varies. About 82 percent of the state is in an extreme drought, and 35 percent is experiencing an exceptional drought. That's the worst of all the drought categories.

Drought spreading southward in Alabama

Nov 17, 2016

A new report shows that a choking drought is spreading southward across Alabama.

Federal statistics show nearly 90 percent of the state is now in a severe drought. And the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 65 percent of the state is in an extreme or exceptional drought.

Conditions are worst in the northern half of the state, where many areas haven't had measurable rainfall in two months. The rainless period is setting records, and some places are more than 15 inches below normal rainfall for the year.

Alabama is not the only state dealing with a drought.

Federal authorities say warmer-than-average temperatures and no rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking forest fires across the Southeastern U.S., forcing people to evacuate dozens of homes.

Thursday's national drought report shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 southern states now live in drought conditions. The worst is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, but extreme drought also is spreading into western North and South Carolina.

'No Burn' order expanded to all Alabama counties

Nov 7, 2016

Gov. Robert Bentley has extended a "no burn order" to all Alabama counties because of wildfires fueled by dry conditions.

Bentley placed all 67 counties under a drought declaration today that prohibits outdoor burning. Previously, 46 counties were covered by the order.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says 1,421 wildfires have occurred in Alabama since the first of October. The fires have destroyed around 15,409 acres.

Birmingham inching towards drought record

Nov 2, 2016

Summer-like heat and bone dry conditions continue to stick around Alabama this fall season.

Much of the state has broken records on high temperatures in the past couple of days. Forecasters are predicting a cold front to move in on Thursday that will bring a few storms and near average temperatures.

John De Block is a meteorologist for the national weather service in Birmingham.   He says that Birmingham is closing in on the record for the longest streak of days without significant rainfall…

picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The Alabama Office of Water Resources has placed 18 more counties under a drought emergency.

Al.com reports yesterday’s declaration means that 46 of the state's 67 counties — more than two-thirds of Alabama — have been designated at emergency level, the most severe drought designation.

The latest counties to be added to the list are in west and east-central Alabama and include Montgomery County and Tuscaloosa County. Most of the northern half of the state had been previously classified at that level.

pipeline explosion
Alabama EMA

One worker has been killed and six more were injured after a gasoline pipeline exploded yesterday afternoon near Helena, Alabama.

The explosion occurred near the site of a leak found last month that spilled at least 300,000 gallons of gasoline. Pipeline operator Colonial says a contract crew working on the pipeline “experienced an incident” when the trackhoe they were using hit the line.

Wildfires burning around South as drought worsens

Oct 27, 2016

Wildfires are charring hundreds of acres daily in the South amid a worsening drought, and no rain is in sight.

Wildfires have burned more than 12,000 acres statewide in Alabama in the last 30 days.  Fires have burned acreage in communities around Birmingham.

Forestry officials say rain is the answer, but substantial storms aren't predicted in short-term forecasts.

In the wake of severe drought conditions affecting much of the state, Birmingham’s water utility is taking extra steps to conserve water.

The Birmingham Water Works says it plans to implement Stage Three of its drought management plan. That includes a surcharge of 200 percent for both residential and non-residential customers for excess water use. Those surcharges are expected to go into effect November 19.

Twenty-eight Alabama counties have been placed under a drought emergency.

The Alabama Drought Declaration issued yesterday comes after conditions across the state continue to degrade due to little rainfall and higher-than-normal temperatures.

The counties now under emergency status are mostly in the northern and eastern half of the state. The Shoals region, Huntsville and the Birmingham metro area are all affected.

All counties currently under emergency status are:

Fire Danger Warning Issued for North Alabama

Oct 5, 2016

Drought conditions in the state is putting 46 of Alabama’s 67 counties under a Fire Danger Warning.

Officials say 142 wildfires in the last seven days throughout the state that has burned 1,500 acres of land.

Coleen Vansant is the spokeswoman for the Alabama Forestry Commission. She explains what factors determine which counties are under a warning…

The Alabama Board of Education has named the state’s new superintendent.  APR Student Reporter Jalen Drummond has the details…

Michael Sentance of Massachusetts will be the Alabama Public School’s top official.  Sentance won the position by a narrow margin with five votes after board members voted on candidates for several rounds. 

Embattled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court today to try and have his ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton abruptly canceled the hearing yesterday afternoon, saying his eventual decision would be based solely on legal documents.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will benefit from a multi-million dollar settlement with a Norwegian shipping company.

DSD Shipping Company was found guilty of dumping thousands of gallons of harmful bilge into the Gulf of Mexico.

Helene Hassell is the Executive Director for the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She says the money from the settlement will be put to good use…

A utility in north Alabama is telling residents not to drink any tap water due to chemical contamination.

The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority held a news conference in Decatur yesterday about potentially hazardous levels of two chemicals in tap water sourced from the Tennessee River.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an advisory about the chemicals, and authority general manager Don Sims says the system's 10,000 customers shouldn't drink or cook with tap water since it contains them.

SBA Offering Disaster Loans Due To Alabama Drought

Sep 4, 2012
sba.gov / U.S. Small Business Administration

Federal officials say disaster loans are available to small businesses and other organizations as a result of drought in Alabama. The U.S. Small Business Administration said in a statement that economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations in Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, DeKalb and Etowah counties. The loans are available for drought conditions that occurred between July 3 and Aug. 27, 2012.

Drought Affects Large Swaths Of U.S.

Jul 20, 2012

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Colorado has been at the center of another devastating story in recent days -the worst wildfires in its history. Those fires are just one consequence of record heat in a drought that has spread across the Rockies and the Midwest. Local news is filled with pictures of farmers gripping shriveled ears of corn and boats marooned in empty reservoirs. It's a drought that will go down in history, much like that of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, and another in the 1950s that hit the central plains and the Southwest.

Interactive: Mapping The U.S. Drought

Jul 18, 2012

Texas experienced its worst drought on record last year. Now that the state is seeing some relief, drought conditions have consumed more than half the United States. Use this interactive map and chart to see how conditions have changed over time. Related story: 1,200 counties affected.

Nearly Half of Alabama Declared Drought Emergency

Jul 13, 2012
picture of dry river bed
taigasylvan / Flickr.com

The U.S. secretary of agriculture has declared a drought emergency in about half of Alabama's counties.

Gov. Robert Bentley and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan said the declaration by Secretary Thomas Vilsack makes farmers in 33 counties eligible for low-interest federal loans.

More rain headed toward Alabama

Jul 12, 2012
The Drought Monitor / National Drought Mitigation Center

Forecasters say more storms are headed toward Alabama, but still more rain is needed to break a worsening drought.

The National Weather Service says there's a good chance of precipitation statewide on Thursday. The Tennessee Valley counties in north Alabama could get 1 or 2 inches of rain with gusty winds, and high temperatures will top out around 80 degrees.

There's an 80 percent chance of rain in central Alabama, and a 60 percent chance on the coast.