A dry spell

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

While hurricanes have dumped buckets of rain on the Eastern Seaboard, Southeast Missouri has been parched. August rainfall recorded for Cape Girardeau totaled 6.15 inches in August, but only 0.02 of an inch was measured in September. Last year the area had 16.52 inches of rain during August and September.

The lack of rain has officials worried that the dry ground will pose an increased risk for fire hazards. As people begin to start raking leaves and burning them, the danger for an uncontrolled blaze rises. Some fire departments already are considering temporary burn bans until the area gets a soaking rain. Sikeston officials already have asked residents not to burn leaves or trash because of the dry conditions.

While firefighters might fret over the danger of a dry spell, some farmers are glad for it. The dry conditions mean area farmers have good conditions for harvesting crops. Yet the lack of moisture also means less yield for other crops in some instances because the rain hasn't nourished the fields. Late soybeans might not have a good yield because there hasn't been enough rain for the plants to mature. And wheat could be affected unless it rains soon.

Regardless of whether you favor the cool, dry autumn or would prefer more rain, take caution to be safe during such dry weather. Even the smallest spark can lead to a blaze when rain hasn't fallen in weeks.

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