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November 3, 2016

Tennessee Drought, Wildfire Threat Assessment & Update for Nov. 3, 2016


HIGHLIGHTS

• Low water levels and drought conditions persist and little to no rain is in the current forecast.

• Localized wildfires continue to breakout, and are quickly contained with local and State firefighters working in cooperation.

• TDEC advising voluntary water conservation customers in eight southeastern counties to limit drought impact.


CURRENT SITUATION
Dry conditions continue in Tennessee aggravating already low water levels and increasing the threat of wildfires in many of the State’s counties on the Cumberland Plateau and eastward.


Four Tennessee counties – Bradley, Franklin, Hamilton, and Marion – have geographic portions ranked as experiencing Exceptional Drought conditions. Severe to Extreme Drought conditions are present in a majority of East Tennessee counties, with Extreme Drought conditions beginning to impact Giles and Lawrence counties in Middle Tennessee.


ISSUES BY AREA


Water Supply
Water systems in eight Tennessee counties are reporting drought issues. This includes systems in Bledsoe, Blount, Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, Polk, Scott and Van Buren counties. Seven systems in these counties have enacted mandatory water conservation measures, with others issuing voluntary conservation notices. The primary threats to these local systems are the availability of water for drinking and hygiene, and for fire-fighting capabilities.


Wildfire
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry data shows 787 fires have burned 23,832 acres since the beginning of 2016. Recent wildfire locations over the previous week have included: a 30-to-40 acre fire in Claiborne County; a brush fire in Campbell County; three to four wildfires along I-40 west in Dickson County; and, a fire in a recreation area at the South Cumberland State Park near Monteagle.


RESPONSE ACTIVITIES
The Drought & Wildfire Task Force is meeting bi-weekly with members to establish a common operating picture of the drought and wildfire threat to ensure effective coordination and risk communication among state and local partners.


Task Force members include representatives with the Tennessee departments of Agriculture and its Division of Forestry; Commerce and Insurance and the State Fire Marshal, Environment and Conservation, Health, Human Services, Military, and Transportation, and Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The Tennessee Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (TN WARN), an agency providing mutual aid and assistance to utilities in the state, is also participating on the Task Force.


In Bledsoe County, Save-A-Lot and Piggly Wiggly have donated 20 cases each of water to assist residents of the Luminary community who are running low on water availability.


The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued a press release on Oct. 27, advising residents in a number southeastern Tennessee counties to voluntarily cut back on water use to ease drought conditions. The release recommended customers of the following water systems to temporarily limit water usage for non-essential purposes:

• Bledsoe County – Pikeville Water System
• Franklin County – Sewanee Utility District
• Grundy County – Big Creek Utility District, Tracy City Water System, Monteagle Public Utility Board
• Marion County – TN American Sequatchie Valley Water System, Griffith Creek Utility District
• Sequatchie County – Dunlap Water System, Cagel-Fredonia Utility District
• Van Buren County – Fall Creek Falls Utility District


WEATHER FORECAST
High pressure keeps dry and unseasonably warm weather in Tennessee through Wednesday. An approaching front brings a chance of rain Thursday with more seasonable temperatures forecast for the weekend.


About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, TNDisasterInfo, on Twitter, @T_E_M_A, and at www.tnema.org.