At times during the past two years when Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath has mentioned how close officials are to ordering a burn ban because of dry conditions, rain has moved in and lowered the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI).
Spenrath once again mentioned it during another Wharton County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, July 13.
With the KBDI number of 358 provided by Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland the day before, Spenrath said the range in WC was 321 being the wettest and 452 the driest.
“I always mention that a burn ban kicks in at 500,” Spenrath said. “Some parts of the county are close. I’ve said that three times, and three times the good Lord has blesses us with rain, but the forecast looks like it’s going to be in the 90s so it is not looking good.”
It is Kirkland’s responsibility to be in communication with Spenrath. He said on July 5, the KBDI level was 229. So, in a week it went up 130 points.
On Friday, July 10, Kirkland shared a heat advisory from the National Weather Service, explaining that El Campo and Wharton were forecast to receive heat index values of 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the urgent weather message from the NWS, it urged residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. NWS added that young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.
“At the current rate, Andy believes if (weather) stays the same, next Monday, July 20, it would be at 505,” Spenrath said. “The burn ban doesn’t actually kick in until that following Thursday when newspapers and the media notify the public.”
If nothing changes, Spenrath said WC could have a burn ban on Thursday, July 23.