Morning headlines: Sunday, July 22, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines: Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jul 22, 2012

The longer the drought lingers, the harder it is to snap

Temperatures are expected to get back into the triple digits today and there is little chance of rain in the coming week. 

That’s making it less likely the worst drought in at least a quarter century will be snapped any time soon. 

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jon Carney said a lack of ground moisture in the region is making rain less likely.

“In a normal year, when we do have a little bit of ground water, plants will absorb that water and then release it through evapotranspiration,” Carney said.  “Since there is no ground water to be had we’re not getting that evapotranspiration which keeps the lower levels of the atmosphere very dry.  We don’t really have any kind of moisture to make thunderstorms with.”     

Carney said the drought would have to extend at least another season to reach the level of historic dry periods in 1956 and the Dust Bowl.

According to the US Drought Monitor more than 60 percent of the lower 48 states are now in some level of drought. 

Officials concerned about forest fires in Missouri

Jacob McCleland of KRCU reported this story

During a typical year, Missouri has a spring fire season and fall fire season.  Summer is usually a downtime for forest fires.

But that's not the case this year.

In June and July alone, there were 50 wildfires that burned over 4000 acres in the Mark Twain National Forest. Compare that to an average year, when about 5,000 acres burn over 12 months.

Rick Case is the assistant forest fire management officer for the Mark Twain National Forest.

He said fire managers are keeping a close eye on forests near Salem and Fredericktown, in south central and Southeast Missouri. A wind storm dropped many old trees there back in 2009.

"Those areas are a huge concern with us right now because they are very hard to put out. Real large logs laying all over ground, basically, and they're carrying fire,” Case Said.  “We've had only one during our little outbreak, but it was very intense because I was there. It was hot."

Case says lightning, accidents, and arson are all leading culprits. But he can blame at least a dozen fires on lawnmowers. They strike rocks that create a spark that leads to wildfires.

Drunken boaters a growing risk in Illinois waters

The number of boating deaths linked to alcohol on Illinois waterways has increased over the past five years.

Authorities are warning boaters to take the risks of drinking more seriously.

The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday  that nine people died last year in alcohol-related boating accidents. That's the highest number since 2004.

The U.S. Coast Guard says that nationally, Illinois ranked second in such fatalities, after Wisconsin.

This year, one boater who disappeared in May was found dead in the Rock River in Winnebago County after leaving a bar.

Capt. Joe Morelock of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says drinking plays a role in almost all of the accidents they see. He says the department is struggling to maintain a police presence on waterways because of budget cuts.

Local police departments will team up for blood drive this week

Five local police agencies are partnering with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center for a blood drive this week. 

Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center Kirby Winn said it’s notoriously hard to get blood donations during the summer months. 

“This is the time of year when you go on vacation and do other things,” Winn said.  “Year in, and year out the numbers decrease during summertime.” 

Police departments in St. Louis County, Clayton, Overland, Creve Coeur and the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy will all take part in the blood drive.

Dates and locations of the blood drive.

  • Monday, July 23 (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy  1266 Sutter Ave, St. Louis.
  • Monday, July 23 (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) Clayton Police Department – Center of Clayton, Clayton H.S. Commons 50 Gay Ave., Clayton.
  • Tuesday, July 24 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Overland Police Department – Overland Community Center 9225 Lackland Ave, St. Louis.
  • Tuesday, July 24 (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) St. Charles City Police Department, Community Room 1781 Zumbehl Rd.
  • Wednesday, July 25 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) Creve Coeur Police Department, Multipurpose Room 300 N. New Ballas Rd.