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Hays County still under burn ban, despite rainfall

By Megan Wehring 

HAYS COUNTY – While residents have seen some recent rainfall, Hays County is still under a burn ban. 

More than half of the state of Texas is under a burn ban, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service Burn Ban Web Map. Out of a total of 254 counties in Texas, 153 are under a burn ban and 101 are not. 

Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) map

As of Aug. 29, Hays County has a Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) of 669.42 compared to 752.90 on Aug. 12. KBDI is an index used to determine forest fire potential, according to Texas Weather Connection. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions.

“While we were very fortunate to receive the rain, not all of the county received an abundance amount of rain,” said Mark Wobus, Hays County Fire Marshall, at the Aug. 23 commissioners court meeting. 

Wobus shared the following rainfall amounts (as received by Aug. 23): 

• City of Hays: 2.48 inches 

• Driftwood: 1.65 inches

• Wimberley: 1.26 inches 

• Kyle: 1.18 inches 

• Right outside of San Marcos at the airport: Under 0.25 inches

The Texas A&M Forest Service Burn Ban Web Map

“While, yes, we saw massive amounts of rainfall from the metroplex receiving over 15 inches of rain to the Austin area receiving close to 10 inches of rain,” Wobus explained, “we have not received an amount that I [am]comfortable lifting the burn ban.”

Wobus spoke with local fire chiefs and they agreed that the burn ban should remain in effect at least through this week to allow for at least some “green up” to take effect – the Hays County Commissioners Court can revisit the burn ban on Aug. 30 or at a later date. 

About Author

Megan Navarro (formerly Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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