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Franklin Co. dusting off drought plan - just in case

July 25, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - July has been a very dry month, but total rainfall for the area is not drastically short of normal, according to local weather observers.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has not issued a drought declaration, but Franklin County Emergency Services Director Jerry Flasher said he has had his staff dust off the county drought plan for review, just in case.

"I anticipate there will be other municipalities and possibly the state, as well," putting burn bans in place if dry conditions persist, Flasher said. "Other than that, we're just monitoring conditions."

In making a drought declaration, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency relies on information gathered through the state's Department of Environmental Resources, PEMA spokesman Justin Fleming said.

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In Waynesboro, Pa., precipitation for the year was 20.99 inches Tuesday afternoon, weather observer Todd Toth said. The average rainfall through the end of July is about 24 inches a year, he said.

Rainfall for the month, however, has totaled just 0.59 inches, about 3 inches short of average precipitation for July, Toth said.

Chambersburg-area weather observer Jerry Ashway said precipitation by the end of June measured 15.33 inches - about 2 inches short of normal for that time - and rainfall for July had totaled just 1.18 inches.

Usually the wettest month of the year, June produced 3.1 inches of rain, almost an inch short of the average, Ashway said.

The rain gauge atop the county courthouse showed total precipitation for the year at 20.15 inches. Since June 28, precipitation has been measured at 1.34 inches, according to the county logs.

"It would be nice to have the remnants of a tropical storm," Toth said.

"That's what it's going to take to cure this thing," Ashway said. Some hit-and-miss storms have passed through the area, providing a decent rain here and there, but leaving other areas bone dry, he said.

Washington Township has a general burn ban in effect all the time, but has not issued a ban on all open burning, Supervisor Carroll Sturm said Tuesday. The township does allow outdoor burning for agricultural and construction purposes, and some other exceptions, he said.

The township's separate ordinance to restrict open burning during dry weather conditions allows for the township manager or chairman of the board of supervisors to ban all open burning on the recommendation of the fire chiefs serving the municipality.

There have been some grass and brush fires during this dry spell, but Flasher said, "Ironically, most of the fires we've had have been a result of people throwing a cigarette down in mulch."

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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