Thankfully residents were finally able to see some rain over the weekend in Randolph County.
Wedowee received 2.25 inches on Saturday. Northwest Randolph County received 5/8 of an inch on Saturday and 1/4 of an inch on Tuesday, Oct. 8. In regard to the Rock Mills area, Paul Swisher, informed us that on the first day of September, there was .67" inches of rain and that was the only day in September there was rainfall in that area. Starting in October, we went another five days with no rain, and finally on the 6th, there was .64", .01" on the 7th, and .01 on the 8th. Unfortunately, there are low chances of rain for the remainder of the week and beginning of next week.
The poor weather conditions in Alabama have really had most people frustrated for the past few weeks as expectations for fall weather have not been met. As many look forward to a crisp, cool and cozy fall, the county has yet to see these days this year. Though it is starting to get a little cooler, it's still pretty hot - even for Alabama. The Alabama Forestry Commission has issued a statewide fire alert, meaning burning land without a permit could result in a criminal charge. In addition to that, this area hasn't seen much rain in weeks. Though the extreme heat and lack of rain makes for an uncomfortable day for all of us, local agricultural workers are really experiencing a dent in their industries.
Local cattleman Ed Barrett helps to explain the impact he is experiencing in Morrison Crossroads, "As an agricultural producer, you heavily depend on the rainfall, and even though we primarily raise cattle, we also grow grass. This has put a damper on our pastures that are being grazed, and the high temperatures have exasperated it by sucking more moisture out of the ground. The pastures are really low, and we have no grass going into the winter. Producers are already feeding hay early in the year, which will really affect them long term because cattle don't do as good on hay as they do on green grass."
Barrett says they are seeing about half of the hay yields for the fall as what they would have expected. "The products just aren't there," explains Barrett. "We definitely could use the rain, but the damage has already been done. There is no recovering at this point." Barrett continues, "This really just came out of nowhere and caught a lot of people off-guard because we had so much rain in the spring, and hay was plentiful. Now people are really hurting because they didn't save any for themselves."
According to the Office of Water Resources (OWR), extremely low amounts of precipitation and high temperatures have led to rapidly intensifying drought conditions across the entire state. Central and Southeast Alabama continue to be the hardest hit areas.
Plant nursery owner in Wedowee, Jack Burnside, states, "We are definitely losing sales because we don't have the stuff in stock. But if we stock them, it's just going to die. Its way, way, way too hot. The materials from our growers that we buy from are not ready anyway because it hasn't cooled off enough for this stuff to grow."
In addition, crop growers, such as Joe Bradley of Swagg, say, "It's hurt the price of cattle because the hay crop this year was not very good because of the drought." Luckily there are resources available for our agricultural needs. Bradley explained he and his workers are applying for governmental aid. "We are looking at the government to give us Drought Relief Funds, which is monetary value to the farmers based on their cattle and what acreage they have." Bradley says this is funded by the USDA, and he believes they have a good chance of receiving the funding. However, croppers and other workers statewide are looking into the same funding.
According to the US drought monitor, the entire state is facing a drought. Water system managers are urged to carefully monitor water sources and implement water conservation measures as needed. Public water system customers are encouraged to follow their local water system's recommendations regarding water use. All other water users should make prudent decisions on their water use to protect available water resources. For more information, visit their web site at www.water.alabama.gov and follow the links for Drought Planning and Management. You may also reach their office at
(334) 242-5499, fax at (334) 242-0776, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.