September is usually one of the driest months of the year in Mississippi and Alabama. It's especially true in 2005. Halfway through the month, Meridian's official weather observation station at Key Field has yet to register a single drop of rain. This is creating some dangerous conditions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"Some of the big problems we have with Katrina is the blow down we have had out here in the forest," said Ed Brown of the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "It's just a real serious threat, not only to life and property, but to our wildland firefighters and volunteer fire departments."
As many residents continue to clean up debris left behind from Katrina, some may consider burning leaves and smaller limbs. Not a good idea, according to Brown. It has been so dry that the fire may become uncontrollable.
"Causes of fires right now we are faced with due to Katrina is debris burning," Brown said. "People cleaning up outdoors and we do have burn bans in place. We are trying to encourage the people not to do any outdoor burning."
To reduce the risk of fire, remove all the debris from around your home. Even if you do get a light shower, it won't be enough. It will take several weeks of consistent rainfall before the threat level is reduced.
"It's going to take several days of maybe two to three inches of rainfall on a regular basis of every week to knock out this fire danger," said Brown.
Penalties for violating the burn ban in Lauderdale County can be up to $500. Other counties have similar fines.
Clarke County, Miss., supervisors also issued a burn ban on Thursday.