PEARL, Miss. (WJTV) – Since August 1, 2023, the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) has responded to more than 1,030 fires, which have burned more than 16,000 acres.
The partial state-level burn ban is still in effect, and several additional counties have implemented burn bans. October is typically one of the driest months of the year. Due to extreme drought conditions in August, the state experienced an earlier and heightened season of erratic wildfire activity.
Some recent rainfall has provided some relief by reducing the presence of critically dry fuels across the Lower Mississippi Valley. Consequently, fire danger indices have improved.
However, MFC officials said a concerning trend is emerging following a dry frontal passage, which poses a renewed risk of reburn and potentially challenging-to-contain wildfires in central and southern Mississippi.
While there are indications that El Niño may bring more rainfall towards the end of October, it is important to acknowledge that the damage caused by the drought and the underlying dryness will persist until then.
“Experts describe the drought’s effects as the most severe in at least a generation. Pervasive dryness throughout the Mississippi River Basin has resulted in low water levels, allowing wildfires to encroach upon hardwood river bottoms in parts of Mississippi. Additionally, our deciduous trees are shedding leaves early due to the drought. However, the area at most risk continues to be pine forests and the underlying southern rough,” said MFC Fire Chief Randy Giachelli.