The crispy crunch of the leaves. The smell of smoke permeates the air. Plants are drooping and trees are thirsty. It happened again: another Georgia drought. This time in autumn 2016 it's obvious that the drought is hitting us later in the year. Is there a silver lining? I can tell you that weeds and grass aren't growing on these more mild days in mid-late November.
For a short look back again: in 2007 when he had a serious drought, we were in summer with certain days reaching near triple digit figures. The drought revisited again in 2011 when we reached one of the longest string of 90-degree or above days that summer.
Stiff watering restrictions are mandated throughout the entire Peach State. With very little moisture in sight, restricting water use needs to happen like yesterday. When I write "yesterday," I honestly mean these mandates should have been in place probably before Labor Day.
Monday Morning Quarterbacking on the water restrictions gets all of us nowhere. So, what's up with the new restrictions? Back in September, 53 counties were in dry conditions or what is known as the Level 2 drought and here we are in late November with all Georgia counties under these extremely dry conditions. Watering for all counties is on the odd-even schedule - meaning those with odd addresses may water Thursdays and Sundays before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. EST. The even addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. EST. This is all well and good, but is it that necessary to do any outdoor watering? Should we conserve for actual human consumption?
Outdoor burning is definitely prohibited under the governor's watering restriction 'edict.' Aside from seeing a train pummel an 18-wheeler in downtown Norcross, the ATL Metro is making national news with the drought and forest fires. While I love outdoor running, for me, it's a tad taxing to breathe in these conditions - not to mention the odor coming off of those fires nearly 80 miles to the north. I've been here many moons and cannot recall North Georgia fires on the scale that is happening these days.
It's a bit strange to see signs around area parks declaring that no grills can be used in these dry conditions, but it's important because even on Thanksgiving, some folks wish to cook their birds outdoors. Indeed frying the bird is different from grilling, but it's easy to make a mistake and cause an outdoor fire. Brush fires can easily happen these days with outdoor cooking or the careless flick of a cigarette. No doubt first responders have dealt with those type of fires here in Metro Atlanta.
What can we expect in the future? Some experts say that this dry pattern will continue since we are in La Niña after experiencing El Niño. Perhaps the conservation plan should be heavier while we look to importing and rationing extra water. Just sayin'.