ENC drought impacts farmers and sparks fires

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Most of Eastern North Carolina is under abnormal to moderately dry conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor. These implications could spark more forest fires and strain crops.

ENC has seen very little rainfall throughout the month of February, according to the WITN First Alert Weather Team which says expanded drought conditions cover most of the East. There has been a monthly average of an inch and a half of rain which is below average by another inch and a half. Droughts and wind can lead to ground fires and not enough moisture for healthy crops like corn and cotton.

According to NC Forest Service Pitt County Ranger, Robin Weber, most fires in NC and Pitt County are caused by debris burning.

“For us, that is predominately how many of our fires are started and then the wind, the drought, just help exacerbate that,” Webber said.

However, there are places you can take your debris to lower the risk of starting a fire.

“Transfer stations within the county that you can take your yard waste to for free. Some people may not have the transportation to take it there but we always recommend it because it’s free,” Weber said.

However, according to David Davenport, the President of Davenport Farms, the drought is not what farmers are focusing on. They are more concerned with El Nino’s effects on their crops.

“With El Nino, we’ll have a cold wet spring, which is not generally good for planting for the things we plant like corn, cotton, peanuts. We are afraid that the moisture will cut off mid-June when we really need a lot of moisture,” Davenport said.

According to the WITN Weather Team, wet conditions are projected for the next 6-10 days for the northern part of our viewing area and wetter than average for the south.