Members of the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday morning to approve a resolution prohibiting all outdoor burning in Oklahoma County.
The burn ban makes it unlawful for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, range, crop or other wild lands, or to build a campfire or bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, range, crop, or other wild land fire. It does not prohibit use of charcoal, gas or other approved outdoor cooking appliances.
Enforcement of the burn ban may be carried out by any law enforcement officer of this State. Any person convicted of violating this resolution will be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine up to $500, jail time up to a year or both.
There is one exception — outdoor cooking in approved cooking appliances is permissible with due caution.
The burn ban is in effect for 30 days.
Drought conditions are intensifying in many states across the country. More than 48 percent of Oklahoma is considered to be in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Extreme drought has returned to the panhandle and several adjacent counties and to parts of several counties in far southeastern Oklahoma. Moderate drought conditions exist in an area that includes all of Oklahoma County, the southern half of Logan County, most of Canadian County and all of Cleveland County. Moderate to severe drought conditions exist in the rest of the state.
In the U.S., 72 percent of the country is now abnormally dry or worse, the largest such area recorded since the Drought Monitor was created in 1999.
Heat is contributing to the conditions. In Oklahoma, the January-June statewide average eclipsed the previous record mark as Oklahoma continues on a path to possibly its warmest year on record, according to data from associate state climatologist Gary McManus and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
The state saw significant drought relief from October 2011 through March, but the rains have since dwindled. June was also the 29th driest June on record, with a statewide average nearly 2 inches below normal.
Southeast and east central Oklahoma were below 50 percent of normal since April 1. Statewide, the average total of 8.2 inches is 4.5 inches below normal, the 14th driest such period on record.
For July 24 through Aug. 1, dry weather is expected to dominate in the southern to central Plains across the Gulf Coast and along the west coast. Above-normal temperatures should maintain their hold across the interior U.S. from the Plains to Southeast, with cooler-than-normal conditions along the west coast.
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