Santa Rosa County, like much of the rest of the state of Florida, is in a drought which makes conditions ripe for wildfires according to Joe Zwierzchowski, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist for the Florida Division of Forestry.
”Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa, pretty much from here to the Everglades are in a drought. We use the mean reading on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which is on a scale up to 800, and our three-county average is 653,” said Zwierzchowski. “That pretty much puts us in an extreme drought.”
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is used by the Florida Division of Forestry to indicate the dryness of the soil and surface fuels. High values of the drought index are associated with severe wildfire outbreaks.
Zwierzchowski also said the area has had no appreciable rain since last August; the fall was one of the driest in Florida’s history, followed by a relatively dry winter and extremely dry spring. He said this is because the world’s oscillation, in terms of weather, is based on either El Nino, which is cold and wet, or La Nina which is warm and dry. The only other option is a neutral situation.
For more on this story, see the June 9 issue of Navarre Press or subscribe online.