Despite recent rains, a ban on outdoor burning remains in effect for Rockwall County and two nearby counties due to the drought conditions across the area.

The Rockwall County Commissioners Court voted Aug. 27 to institute a burn ban in the county for 90 days, until November 24.

Kaufman County was already under a burn ban and since then Collin County has implemented a ban on outdoor burning.

A total of 160 Texas counties were under bans as of Wednesday morning.

Dallas and Hunt counties were not under a ban as of Wednesday, although portions of both counties were also reporting significant drought conditions.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, or KBDI, monitors soil moisture levels and is an indicator used to determine the threat of fire danger. A reading of “zero” under the index means the soil is saturated, while 800 is the highest reading on the index, indicating it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.

As of Wednesday morning, Rockwall County recorded readings of 359 to 586, with a countywide average of 471.

Kaufman county’s average was reported at 517, with Collin County’s average reported at 545 Wednesday morning.

According to the Texas A&M University Forest Service, under a KBDI reading of between 400 and 600, “Wildfire intensity begins to increase significantly. Larger fuels could burn or smoulder for several days.”

A reading of from 600 to 800 is said to be “often associated with more severe drought with increased wildfire occurrence. Intense, deep burning fires with extreme intensities can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.”

Dallas County was reporting readings under the KBDI of between 460 and 727 with a countywide average of 658.

Hunt County’s average under the index Wednesday was at 452.

As of Wednesday morning the National Weather Service forecast was calling for continued above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for all of North Texas through at least Sept. 16.

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