It finally happened after so many warnings that it would – a burn ban.

Wharton County residents are now being told that a burn ban will be issued on Thursday, Aug. 8.

Andy Kirkland, the county’s Emergency Management coordinator, reported that on Monday, Aug. 8, the Keetch Byram Drought Index (KBDI) value for Wharton County was 544.

A few weeks ago, Kirkland said the Commissioners Court had Emergency Management check the KBDI average value for Wharton County every Monday. If the value exceeded 500 at the beginning of the week, a ban on outdoor burning would be put in place at dawn the following Thursday. 

When the county receives rainfall and the index drops below 500 the burn ban is removed immediately, he said. Information is then distributed to media outlets, including newspaper and radio.

For the past few weeks, the county had been provided some relief with showers in some areas. It was enough to lower the KBDI value.

On Sunday, Aug. 7, Kirkland said the KBDI value was 543. 

“We had numerous showers scattered around the county so I had to wait until Monday’s values come out before announcing the burn ban situation,” Kirkland said. 

He wasn’t optimistic once the weekend ended after the showers fell.

And the forecast the Emergency Management announced looks like the ban will stay in place.

There was only a 20 percent chance of showers through Wednesday with the heat index values into the 100s for three consecutive days.

The lows for Thursday through Saturday are in the high 70s, but no precipitation is forecast. The highs are in the mid-90s, Kirkland said.

During a Commissioners Court meeting on July 14, Judge Phillip Spenrath had reported that the KBDI value was 464. At the end of July, the wettest part of the county had been in Danevang (KBDI value 232) and the driest in the East Bernard/Hungerford area (KBDI value 563). 

Kirkland reported that on Aug. 1, the county’s KBDI value was 513.

The KBDI value is measured by the county average, Spenrath said.

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