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Saturday, December 10, 2016

SE United States Drought Persists, Area Shrinking

Recent severe drought conditions in multiple Southern states in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — ranging from Kentucky southward towards Florida — have unfortunately helped to create harmful and lethal wildfires. Originating on Chimney Tops mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of arson, the Chimney Tops 2 wildfire in Sevier County, Tennessee unfortunately killed fourteen people and caused evacuations and damage in two popular resort towns: Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. According to the National Inter-Agency Fire Center, one large wildfire in Georgia and two large wildfires in Tennessee are still being contained by courageous firefighters. The total acreage of these current fires is approximately 42,500 acres. There are some good news: recent precipitation and storms helped shrink the area of severe, extreme, and exceptional droughts as well as extinguish some of the burning areas.

The first map below shows drought conditions in the Southeastern U.S. as of December 7th, 2016. Subsequent maps show the following interstate regions: (1) northern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi, (2) a small exceptional drought region in southeastern Alabama (and extreme western part of Stewart County, Georgia), (3) central and northern Georgia and four counties in western South Carolina, and (4) western North Carolina and southeastern Tennessee. The United States Drought Monitor's newest map was released a day later and reveals a slightly less-severe drought situation than GeoFact of the Day Blog maps show. For example, Southeastern Tennessee used to have an Exceptional Drought (highest level) encompassing almost 14% of the state. This drought recently came down one severity level to become an Extreme Drought. Additionally, the Monitor's Tennessee page reveals that the geographic Extreme-to-Exceptional drought area shrank from 60.43% statewide to 12.28% statewide. Did You Know? An overwhelming amount of wildfires are caused by people. More than 90% of wildfires in the United States are caused by human accidents and purposeful (despicable) arson, according to the National Weather Service! Legend and drought maps below:

This is the map's legend color scheme for all the maps below.

Southeastern United States drought map, December 7th, 2016

Northern Alabama and eastern Mississippi drought map, December 7th, 2016

Drought map of Barbour, Bullock, and Russell counties (Alabama) and Quitman County (Georgia), December 7th, 2016

Northern Georgia and western South Carolina drought map, December 7th, 2016

Southeastern Tennessee and western North Carolina (Great Smoky Mountains) drought map, December 7th, 2016

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