We’re not out of the woods yet
Published: Thursday, September 6th, 2012
For those of you who think we are out of the woods as far as the fire season is concerned, think again. Temperatures are still unseasonably high and it is extremely dry due to the lack of any recordable amount of moisture for at least a month.
Just this past Saturday, Sept. 1, a small fire was reported east of Custer on Highway 16 and America Center Road by Calamity Peak Resort. That fire was quickly put out by U.S. Forest Service firefighters, Custer Volunteer Fire Department personnel, with assistance from the Custer County Sheriff’s Department. The last thing we need now is a wildfire to spoil what is left of the 2012 tourism shoulder season.
Two lightning-caused fires were still raging in the panhandle area of northwest Nebraska this past week. Highway 385 was closed for a short time and Chadron State Park was completely shut down. Classes at Chadron State University were also called off because of all the smoke and danger from fire. The wildfire burned into the southern-most area of South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Fires are not our only concern with this long summer of hot and dry weather. Farmers and ranchers are having a tough time finding enough feed for their livestock. Normally they could graze their cattle on summer pastures, but these fields are extremely dry and lacking sufficient grasses for feed. The only recourse they have other than purchasing expensive hay is to sell their herds. This may mean inexpensive beef now, but wait until the demand exceeds the supply. Prices for this commodity are sure to skyrocket later.
The same is true for crops like corn which are being cut into silage in most areas of the state. Corn and its byproducts such as corn syrup and fructose can be found in just about all of our processed food products. Agriculture officials are telling us that the price of food at the markets is bound to increase later this year. If rain comes soon, it will still be too late for farmers this year.
In case you are wondering, the Old Farmer’s Almanac 2013 Weather Watcher’s Calendar says temperatures will be much colder this winter from the East Coast westward to a line from the Dakotas to Texas. It says that every place west of this line, except for portions of the Desert Southwest, temperatures will be warmer than last winter.
Snowfall is predicted to be well below normal in most locations that normally receive snow. In the very next notation, the almanac says that areas suffering from drought during summer 2012 should receive enough winter precipitation to bring improvement. So, will we or will we not, have more than normal winter precipitation? That seems to be the big question.
At any rate, we still have a good month or more to go in this current fire season. Temperatures need to be significantly cooler and a bit of moisture would be most welcome to carry us into the cold winter months. Saying a special prayer for rain might be a good idea.
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