The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has declared a state of emergency in response to continuing drought conditions and threats of wildfires across the state.
TEMA activated the Emergency Management Plan Thursday evening. This allowed local, state, and federal personnel to be ready to respond to protect people and property throughout the state.
At the National Weather Service in Old Hickory, meteorologists have been tracking the conditions. Currently, the entire state has been in a moderate drought, Middle Tennessee has been experiencing a severe drought, and Southeastern Tennessee has been seeing an exceptional drought.
“For Nashville, we normally should have 40 inches of total rain at this point in the year, and we are down about six inches,” said Faith Borden, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Borden added there hasn’t been any rain in November, and both September and October were some of the driest on record.
In the past 24 hours, more than 9600 acres have burned across the state. Currently, burn bans have been in effect in Claiborne, Cumberland, Jefferson, Loudon, Marion, Monroe, Robertson, and Sevier counties. Those with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said they do not expect to issue any Safe Burning Permits statewide until the state has seen substantial rainfall.
TEMA officials have found approximately 107 water systems across the state that have been experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions. In Smyrna, the Utilities Department has asked customers to conserve water by stopping all non-essential uses, including washing sidewalks, filling swimming pools, washing cars, and watering lawns.
Borden said looking ahead, she doesn’t expect to see a lot of relief.
“We should expect above normal temperatures for the next three months,” said Borden. “That doesn’t mean we won’t see rain or cooler temperatures, but relatively speaking we are warmer and drier than normal this time of year.”