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November 22, 2016

TEMA Update on Drought & Wildfires, 11-22-16, 3 p.m., Central


HIGHLIGHTS

• Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issues Executive Order #59 to assist livestock producers with hay transportation during drought.

• Some level of drought, from severe to exceptional, is impacting 442 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems.

• Check drought conditions for your zip code: https://www.drought.gov/drought/drought-my-backyard.

• Air quality will range from moderate through Middle Tennessee, to unhealthy in East Tennessee today.

• Air quality at: https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state&stateid=44. Select “AQI Loop” to see how the air quality forecast will change.

• Wildfire information is at: www.BurnSafeTN.org.


CURRENT SITUATION


In response to Tennessee’s drought emergency on livestock producers, Gov. Bill Haslam issued Executive Order #59 today suspending rules related to vehicles transporting hay, permitting them to carry loads in excess of limits on height, width, and length.


There were 6 new fires in the past 24 hours in Tennessee impacting 30.1 acres. There are 12 major wildfires currently burning, and ranging from 75% to 100% containment. There are currently 62 active fires in Tennessee impacting 17,698 acres.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued a proclamation on Nov. 14 declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.


Residents in these areas of Tennessee where the smoky haze and smell is present do not need call 9-1-1 unless they see smoke actually rising from the ground.


The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan and set in place a Level 3 – State of Emergency, effective at 7 p.m., Central, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. The State of Emergency will remain in place until conditions merit a return to normal, daily operations.


The State of Emergency allows multi-jurisdictional engagement of local, state, and federal personnel and resources to be sure Tennessee is positioned to respond effectively and quickly to protect lives and property from what is emerging as a prolonged drought and wildfire threat in the state.


Relief from the drought and wildfire threat is not imminent as weather forecasts are not showing any significant precipitation in Tennessee through the remainder of 2016.


WILDFIRES


Active Fires (fought in the last 24 hours)

NUMBER OF FIRES: 62 | ACRES BURNED: 17,698


Year to Date
TOTAL NUMBER OF FIRES: 1,323 | TOTAL ACRES BURNED: 42,551


Major Fires

• Bald Knob Rd. (Morgan) 452 acres, 90% contained
• East Miller Cove (Blount) 1,273 acres, 75% contained [FMAG]
• Lee Valley (“Boy Scout Camp”) (Hamblen) 296 acres, 100% contained
• Cool Branch Cove (Hancock) 334 acres, 100% contained
• Old Mountain Rd (Grainger) 201 acres, 100% contained
• HWY 165 (Monroe) 574 acres, 100% contained
• Neddy Mt (Cocke) 885 acres, 100% contained
• White Oak Circle (Morgan) 3,135 acres/100% contained
• Mile Marker 156 (Campbell) 922 acres, 100% contained
• Flippers Bend (Hamilton) 981 acres, 100% contained [FMAG]
• Poe Rd. (Hamilton) 712 acres, 98% contained
• Mowbray (Hamilton) 899 acres, 98% contained [FMAG, part of Smith Mtn. fire complex, which also includes Bench Bluff fire]


Air Quality
The Air Quality Index for Tennessee today shows moderate (Yellow) air quality for much of Middle Tennessee today. Air quality in East Tennessee, especially in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and the Smoky Mountains will range from Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) to Red (Unhealthy).


Burn Bans
Gov. Haslam’s regional burn ban covers the following 51 counties: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Cannon, Carter, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Loudon, Macon, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Sullivan, Trousdale, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington, and White.


More details at: http://www.tn.gov/news/46739


Effective immediately, residents in the counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15.


Additionally, Marshall, Robertson, Sumner and Wilson counties in Middle Tennessee are under an Agriculture Commissioner ban on burning.


The Governor’s regional burn ban applies to open-air burning near woodlands and includes a prohibition of campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, and construction debris. Generally, the burn ban does NOT apply to cooking grills and other similar lighted devices that are well established in a confined, protected area away from woodlands. However, as a precaution, the disposal of hot grill ashes can be a fire hazard. Grill ashes should be allowed to completely cool or wetted before disposal in all cases. The burning of household waste is never allowed under state air quality laws. More information is available at: https://tn.gov/environment/article/apc-open-burning.


DROUGHT


Approximately 442 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from severe to exceptional, with 260 water systems in a severe drought category and 182 systems in the extreme to exceptional drought range.


The current U.S. Drought Monitor report shows much of Tennessee in Severe to Exceptional drought status. An Extreme drought band stretches from lower Middle Tennessee through the Cumberland Plateau to the far eastern part of the State. Exceptional drought rules in the lower southeastern corner in the counties surrounding the Chattanooga area.


Details at: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?TN.


Counties in the exceptional drought category include: Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Monroe, Poke, Rhea, and Sequatchie.


Drought Resources

• County Ag extension agents are primary source of assistance for farmers.

• Hay availability website: http://picktnproducts.org

• The Farm Services Agency (FSA) has several of USDA’s disaster relief programs: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program/index

• Agriculture Drought Information: https://extension.tennessee.edu/Pages/ANR-CED-Drought.aspx

• FSA has the Livestock Forage Program and Emergency Loans available to producers due to drought. In Tennessee if more information is needed about the Livestock Forage Program Ron Eldridge can be contacted at ron.eldridge@tn.usda.gov or 615-277-2620. For Emergency Loans contact James Welborn at James.welborn@tn.usda.gov or 615-277-2627.

TDEC’s Division of Water Resources webpage for listing of water systems in varying stages of drought response: http://tn.gov/environment/topic/wr-drought-planning


RESPONSE ACTIVITIES


Wildland firefighters from 10 states, including Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Washington are supporting Tennessee’s efforts to contain, control, and mitigate the wildfire threat. Another 20 State and Federal agencies are engaged in either fighting the wildfires directly or in coordinating the efforts and resources for those who are.


Since Sun., Nov. 6, the Tennessee Army National Guard (TNARG) has conducted 911 water air drop missions in support of wildfire fighting efforts in east Tennessee.


The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville is staffed and TEMA coordination is ongoing through the SEOC with state and local partners involved in the wildfire response and drought monitoring. These partners include: the Tennessee departments of Agriculture and its Division of Forestry; Commerce and Insurance and the State Fire Marshal, Correction, Environment and Conservation, Health, Human Services, Military, and Transportation, and Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.


Tennessee State Parks has officially issued burn bans for the following state parks:

• Pickett State Park/Pogue Creek Canyon
• South Cumberland State Park
• Cumberland Mountain State Park
• Fall Creek Falls State Park
• Norris Dam State Park
• Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park


WEATHER FORECAST

• Very low relative humidity expected this afternoon for the eastern region of the state.
• High pressure continues to dominate the region.
• The possibility of rainfall returns by Wednesday as a cold front will move through the region Wednesday night.


KEY MESSAGE


The Tennessee Arson Hotline is 1-800-762-3017 and is answered 24 hours a day. Report arson activity also to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). Callers may remain anonymous.


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.