Rainfall last week and chances for more in the coming days led Guadalupe County officials to lift a ban on outdoor burning Monday morning.
County Judge Kyle Kutscher ended the burn ban effective 10 a.m. Monday, he said. The burn ban went into effect Oct. 14.
“I got recommendation from the fire marshal’s office that it was safe to remove that,” Kutscher said. “Last week, we got the first substantial amount of rain countywide. It was really good to see, but it did bring the KBDI drought index number down considerably.”
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is the instrument the county uses to monitor dry conditions. When it reaches about 500 or higher, officials begin considering implementing a burn ban.
The KBDI hovered in the area of 575 when the county implemented the most recent burn ban.
Rain doused the area starting Dec. 31 bringing 2 to 3 inches of precipitation to eastern portions of Guadalupe County and 1 to 2 inches across western portions, said Jason Runyen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Braunfels.
Forecasters predict about .1 inch of rain Wednesday and additional chances of precipitation Saturday night into Sunday, Runyen said.
“There may be some better opportunities for amounts, possibly up to a half an inch with that,” he said.
The amount of rain the area saw over the long holiday weekend dropped the KBDI below 500, said Bryce Houlton, Guadalupe County assistant fire marshal. Upon recognizing the change and chances for more, the fire marshal’s office recommended Kutscher release the ban, Houlton said.
“We still encourage everyone to be smart and cautious when burning because we still have a lot of fuel on the ground because of the recent freezes we’ve had,” he said.
Temperatures have dipped below the freezing mark in recent weeks, Houlton said. Freezing kills vegetation or makes it dormant, creating a more easily ignitable fuel, he said.
Though county officials found it safe to allow outdoor burning, Guadalupe County remains under long-term drought conditions, Runyen said. The rain that fell and that is forecast to fall won’t significantly change those conditions, he said.