Southern Wildifres

Wildfires scorch the drought stricken Southeast

Nov 18, 2016  | Ep4213

Even the thermometer is on the rise. Federal meteorologists announced this week 2016 is on pace to be the hottest on record.

The Southeast could use a little change of pace when it comes to the moisture department as portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina have just reported the driest three month period on record.

John Torpy reports on how the tinder-dry conditions have sparked a major outbreak of fires. 

U.S. Forest Service officials say firefighters are battling dozens of fast moving wildfires spanning thousands acres of parched southern forestland. The largest fires have already blazed across Georgia and North Carolina, while smaller outbreaks have been reported in Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.

With temperatures up to 10 degrees above normal, farmers in the Southeast have only been able to watch as the severity of the drought has increased in Alabama and Mississippi over the last few months. And the dry conditions have started to expand their reach into West Virginia and parts of the Florida panhandle.

Bringing the inferno under control has presented an unexpected set of challenges for firefighters accustomed to attacking blazes out west.

                                                Chad Cullum, Montana Firefighter, “Typical fires usually lay down at night for a period of time. It might only be one or two hours but it gives you a little bit of time where it lays down and you can reset your resources and get them repositioned where this one continues to                                                     spread."

Compounding the problem is an official forecast for La Nina which could bring warmer, drier conditions to the already parched South. If it comes to pass, there is a 50 percent chance of the weather system sticking around through winter, potentially tightening the drought’s grip even further.

While it remains to be seen how things will play out, a southern drought has often been followed by extremely dry conditions across the Grain Belt.

For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy

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