Posts tagged ‘dry conditions’

Dry conditions make fireworks especially dangerous

*published July 2, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

As July Fourth approaches, firefighters want residents to be cautious when handling fireworks.

“The area is still suffering from abnormally dry conditions,” said Chief T.A. Jones with the Lake Charles Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

He said officials don’t expect enough rain in the next two days to change that.

Fire prevention officers in Westlake, Iowa, Sulphur and DeQuincy stressed that municipal ordinances make it illegal to use fireworks within the city or town limits.

“You can be fined and face possible jail time,” Jones said. “If it causes damage to property, you could be charged with more serious crimes.”

Jones said he recommends that residents go to professional fireworks displays and not to use commercial fireworks at all.

He said adults should supervise fireworks use at homes. Children younger than 9 shouldn’t use any, Jones said.

“In 2006, there were about 32,000 fires as a result of fireworks, and about 1,000 were structure (or building) fires,” he said. “And children between the ages of 5 and 9 are twice as likely to be injured by fireworks.”

Jones said all fireworks should be launched from a hard surface, such as a driveway, and not in the grass.

“Be very careful with bottle rockets, because you have no control over their direction after you light it,” he said.

Residents should keep a bucket of water nearby for fireworks that don’t fully discharge. Do not try to relight them, Jones said.

People should also be careful with sparklers, which, Jones said, most people don’t think are that dangerous.

“They get to about 1,500 degrees when they are lit,” he said. He suggested consumers look for sparklers attached to wooden sticks.

article link: http://bit.ly/11HRFq

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July 2, 2009 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

DRY, HOT SUMMER: SW La. faces water watch

Drying soil stresses area agriculture
*published June 23, 2009
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Some folks are feeling the pain of the abnormally dry conditions that continue throughout the area.

“Most of the parish has not had rain for at least three weeks,” said Jerry Whatley, a county agent with the LSU AgCenter Extension Service.

Whatley’s main focus is on crops.

“What’s significant is that if we were having 60-degree weather,” the moisture shortage would not be as bad.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate has 82 percent of the state labeled as short or very short on soil moisture for the week that ended Sunday.

About three weeks ago, 83 percent of the state had adequate or surplus moisture.

Whatley said rice and sugarcane producers are seeing their costs go up as they pump more water from their irrigation wells.

He also suggested some homeowners shouldn’t focus on their yards as much as usual.

“I know most people want to maintain their lawns and gardens, but they don’t realize how much moisture that takes,” Whatley said.

According to the latest drought outlook from the National Weather Service, the area is considered abnormally dry, with the next step being a moderate drought.

“If we don’t get any rain in the next few weeks, we could be headed that way,” said Joe Rua, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Lake Charles office.

This week’s forecast has temperatures in the high 90s all week, with the first chance of moisture on Saturday — a 20 percent chance of rain.

Whatley said the AgCenter expects the scorching weather to persist for the next 60 days.

In the cattle industry, this drought is bringing on longterm negative effects, Whatley said.

“Without proper moisture, the quality of forage decreases,” Whatley said.

For nursing cows, this causes a decrease in milk production, making it harder for them to feed their calves. Pregnant cows use more of their body fat.

“So when they give birth, they are in a poorer condition and struggle to not only feed the newborn calves, but will also rebreed slower,” Whatley said. “All of this translates to lost money for the owners.”

Lake Charles water superintendent Russell Buckles said last week that the city was pumping higher volumes of water to deal with the increased use.

Buckles suggested residents water early in the morning or late in the day and not let water overrun into the street and drains.

Brady Miller beats the heat by jumping the cool water in Prien Lake Park on Monday. With dry conditions and high temperatures expected throughout the week, this and other area water parks should be popular spots for area residents.  BY KAREN WINK

Brady Miller beats the heat by jumping the cool water in Prien Lake Park on Monday. With dry conditions and high temperatures expected throughout the week, this and other area water parks should be popular spots for area residents. BY KAREN WINK

Last Thursday, the Lake Charles Fire Department suspended indefinitely all burn permits and burning in general in the Ward 3 fire district.

“We had been following the conditions and decided as a precaution to put this in place,” said Capt. Jeremy LeBlanc.

He said there had been some grass fires, but not an alarming number.

article link: http://bit.ly/3InZF7

June 23, 2009 at 4:02 am Leave a comment

Area drier than normal, but unlikely to enter drought

*published June 16, 2009

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
The National Weather Service predicts abnormally dry conditions across southern and central Louisiana for the “foreseeable future.”

Rainfall totals for the year in the Lake Charles area are at 21.35 inches, below the 24.77 inches of normal rainfall, meteorologist Sam Shamburger said in a briefing Saturday.

This is still much better than the 2008 rainfall at this time — 15.34 inches.

An official drought has not been declared for the area and is not expected, Sham–burger said.

“This is mainly due to equal chances of both aboveand below-normal rainfall expectations in the long-term climate outlook,” Shamburg–er said.

Drought conditions do exist in Texas and the upper Mississippi River Valley.

According to the Drought Monitor Index, abnormally dry conditions are characterized by short-term dryness, a slowing of planting and growth of crops or pastures, and above-average fire risks.

The next step would be a moderate drought, which could damage crops and pastures.

“We just want residents to continue to monitor their overall water usage,” said Russell Buckles, Lake Charles city water superintendent.

The city is pumping slightly higher volumes of water from its wells for customers’ increased use, but that is common when we have a dry spell, he said.

Buckles said some everyday tips include doing watering early in the morning or late in the day and not letting water overrun into the street and drains.

“Residents should do these things as a precautionary measure,” Buckles said. “But these are good regular practices also.”

article link: http://bit.ly/dKFPIwater

June 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment