Fort Bend County, Fireworks, and Drought

28 12 2012

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the Texas Forest Service has determined that drought conditions no longer exist in Fort Bend County.  The KBDI Index must be an average of 575 for drough conditions to exist within a TexasFireworks county for the purpose of restricting certain aerial fireworks.  Though the County’s index was nearing 500 just a few weeks ago, it is now at 419.  So aerial fireworks will now be allowed to be used in the unincorporated areas of the County on New Year’s Eve; but remember, most cities have bans on the use of fireworks.  Please check with your local jurisdiction to make sure what the regulations are for use of fireworks.

However, many places in Texas are still facing drought conditions.  Public water systems across the State, and in our area, are taking actions to conserve water usage.  There is a possibility that dry conditions may continue across the State for the next several months.  As a matter of fact, the Gulf Coast Water Authority is attempting to limit the use of water by ten percent.  The Gulf Coast Water Authority provides water to some areas in Fort Bend County.  For more information, the City of Missouri City has issued a Media News Release on the subject (published on December 28, 2012).  The content of the News Release is below:

Missouri City Drought Contingency Implementation

Texas is experiencing widespread drought conditions. Forecasts for early 2013 include below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued an Order requiring the implementation of certain water use restrictions, and, as a result, the Gulf Coast Water Authority has set a goal of 10 percent reduction in water use. As a result, effective December 28, 2012, the City of Missouri City has implemented the Stage 2 Response of its Drought Contingency Plan for its Surface Water Treatment Plant Utility Service Area.  This is the area served by Sienna Plantation Municipal Utility Districts. 

The current (time period) water supply reductions and corresponding demand restrictions are temporary in nature; however, the current end date is unknown. 

The City in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Water authority will be monitoring usage and sharing information, and the City will be supplying notice and reports relating to the drought contingency plan to local and state authorities.  

At this time, for residents of Sienna Plantation utility districts, please implement the water conservation measures specified by your utility provider.  Typical water use restrictions include limitations on outdoor watering and at home washing of vehicles.

For more information, please contact your utility provider at the number on your water bill or you may contact the City for additional information at 281-403-8500.

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More About the Keetch-Byram Drought Index…..

16 06 2011

In my last post, I explained KBDI; the Keetch-Byram Drought Index.  Today, I am posting information about what the KBDI levels are in the counties in the Houston-Galveston area.  Any number over 600 indicates a severe drought with increased possibility of wildfire occurrence.  As you can readily tell, the levels in our 13 county region are largely over 700.  In fact, the 14 day forecast indicates that all 13 counties will soon be over the 700 level. 

As the KBDI levels increase, it becomes more and more prudent for local governments to give consideration to restrictions on the use of fireworks.  Limitations on fireworks describe as “rockets on sticks” and “missiles with fins” have now become commonplace in our area.  Many counties in Central and Western Texas have completely banned the use of fireworks.  These counties include Bexar, El Paso, Hays, Lubbock, Potter, Randall, Travis, and Williamson.

 

KBDI LEVELS IN H-GAC COUNTIES

COUNTY

6/13

6/14

6/15

6/16

Austin

708

712

715

718

Brazoria

740

742

745

747

Chambers

715

719

722

726

Colorado

696

700

703

707

Fort Bend

699

703

706

710

Galveston

672

676

680

684

Harris

725

728

731

734

Liberty

716

720

724

728

Matagorda

659

663

667

671

Montgomery 

736

739

742

745

Walker

683

688

694

699

Waller

698

701

705

709

Wharton

667

671

675

679

 





Fireworks Banned in Unincorporated Fort Bend County

14 06 2011

Fort Bend County Commissioners passed an order prohibiting the sale and use of restricted fireworks June 14 in court.  The order was necessary given the extreme dry conditions across the County.  Though some citizens may feel this is unfair restriction that will reduce their enjoyment of the July 4th holiday, I think it is very important to realize why a restriction was placed on the sale and use of aerial-type fireworks.

The order prohibits certain fireworks from being sold and/or used in the unincorporated areas of Fort Bend County and was initiated from the drought conditions that are being experienced across the region.  The order specifically prohibits the sale or use of “sky rockets with sticks” and “missiles with fins” from being sold or used. It has been determined that the restrictions are needed for these types of fireworks due to the lack of rainfall over an extended period of time and as a method for mitigating the threat of dangerous fires.

How dry is Fort Bend County?  Before you answer that question, it is necessary to understand how “dryness” is measured.  A standard measure used is the Keetch-Byram Drought Index.  This Index, commonly referred to as “KBDI,” was created by John L. Keetch and George Byram as a way of measuring specifically for fire potential.  It is a number representing the net effect of evapotranspiration and precipitation in producing cumulative moisture deficiency in upper soil layer.  It is a continuous Index relating the the flammability of organic material in the ground.

The KBDI attempts to measure the amount of precipitation necessary to return the soil to full field capacity. It is a closed system ranging from 0 to 800 units and represents a moisture regime from 0 to 8 inches of water through the soil layer. At 8 inches of water, the KBDI assumes saturation. Zero is the point of no moisture deficiency and 800 is the maximum drought that is possible. At any point along the scale, the index number indicates the amount of net rainfall that is required to reduce the index to zero, or saturation.

KBDI levels and its relationship to expected fire potential are reflected in the following table:

 • KBDI = 0 – 200: Soil moisture and large class fuel moistures are high and do not contribute much to fire intensity. Typical of spring dormant seasonfollowing winter precipitation.

 • KBDI = 200 – 400: Typical of late spring, early growing season. Lower litter and duff layers are drying and beginning to contribute to fire intensity

KBDI = 400 – 600: Typical of late summer, early fall. Lower litter and duff layers contribute to fire intensity and will burn actively.

KBDI = 600 – 800: Often associated with more severe drought with increased wildfire occurrence. Intense, deep-burning fires with significant downwind spotting can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.

So, now that you understand KBDI—- Fort Bend County’s level on the KBDI is currently 703.  This number is rising; and with little or no chance of significant rain in near future, the number will likely continue to rise.  Just for comparison, here is the KBDI level for some of our neighboring counties:  Austin–712; Brazoria–742; Harris–728; Waller–701; and Wharton–671.  Perhaps you now understand why local government officials in our area are taking steps to limit use of fireworks during the upcoming holiday season.