Burn ban due to dry conditions: Monroe one of 16 Hoosier counties

For the next week, Monroe County, Indiana is under a burn ban, declared by board of county commissioners president Penny Githens.

The news was released by Justin Baker, who is deputy director of Monroe County’s emergency management agency.

The ban went into effect at 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13 and will go through Monday, Nov. 20.

Leading to the ban are the dry conditions that the southwestern part of the state has seen over the last several weeks.

Monroe is one of 16 counties in the state that have a current burn ban in effect.  Monroe County’s neighbors to the southwest—Lawrence and Greene counties—have also imposed burn bans.

Monroe County’s ban is not an absolute prohibition against any outdoor flames. According to the order that was issued on Monday, campfires and other recreational fires are exempt, if they’re enclosed in a fire ring with dimensions of 23 inches in diameter and 10 inches high or larger.

Also exempt are grills fueled by charcoal briquettes or propane. Burning at residential structures is allowed in burn barrels with a one-quarter inch mesh during daylight hours.

According to the NOAA Regional Climate centers data, the weather station on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington measured 1.87 inches of rain for the month of October. The “normal” amount of rain for October is more than twice that—3.82 inches.

The previous month of September was even drier, compared to normal levels of precipitation. In September the IU campus saw 1.12 inches of rain which is just a little more than a quarter of the normal amount, which is 3.81 inches.

The 31-day run from Aug. 27 through Sept. 26 this year was the 9th longest stretch of days since 1895 with .05 inches of rain or less.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), Monroe County’s current Drought Severity and Coverage Index (DSCI) is 200—out of a maximum of 500 on that scale.

The index combines the drought severity and the amount of area covered by drought conditions. The score of 200 reflects the fact that 100 percent of Monroe County is currently in “moderate drought”—which is the second categorical classification for drought severity above “abnormally dry,” which is the first category.

The index is computed by multiplying the drought severity category number (1–5) by the percentage of the area covered by that category. All of Monroe County’s area is covered by category 2, which works out to 200.

In 2012, all of Monroe County was in exceptional drought, which is category 5, which worked out to a DSCI of 500.