Drought conditions now severe for much of Arkansas

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Severe drought conditions now grip most of the state of Arkansas, and neighbors can see those effects right in their own front yards.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Map, drought conditions have moved from moderate to severe for a larger portion of the state. Almost 84 percent is now under a severe drought, with "extreme" conditions reaching into Clay County.

George Siebert owns Mid-South Nursery in Jonesboro, and he says he can hardly recall a hotter or drier period in the month of June.

"I do remember having some 100-degree temperatures. I remember that," Siebert said. "Of course that was a 'booger bear' too, but, when you have it early like this here, it may be a prelude of what we have follow."

Siebert has used sprinklers almost non-stop the last few weeks to try and keep his plants alive. Other local nurseries are also battling the hot, dry conditions with plenty of watering, but Siebert says it's a costly fight.

"When you have an early spring like we had, we're at least 30 days ahead in everything, including the greenhouse," he said. "We're ahead of it, but then all of a sudden you have this hard dry spell hit you. Now, you've got to spend a lot of your time, way more hours than you'd like in a day, watering. If you don't, you'll have problems."

Fires have been another byproduct of the dry weather. Wildfires have scorched an estimated 2,000 acres in Colorado, and the risk has grown larger closer to home.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission has placed the entire state of Arkansas on high wildfire alert, and an increasing number of counties have issued burn bans.

Earlier this week, Jonesboro City Water & Light also asked customers to alternate the days they water their lawns.

"This time of year, when it gets hot and dry, our water usage goes up drastically," said Kevan Inboden, a CWL special projects administrator. "This is normal for us, but, when you compare our peak usage during the irrigation season, it's roughly twice what we'll see on an average water usage day."

Siebert says the whole situation has left him simply hoping for rain.

"I'll continue this heavy water on until the good Lord sends us some."

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