Nueces County commissioners last week approved a 90-day ban on aerial fireworks one month ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
The move comes after recent rains failed to help ease a countywide dry season, with the Texas Forest Service listing Nueces County as an area where drought conditions exist and present a danger to its citizens and property, according to the resolution.
The resolution bans the sale and possession of aerial fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county not within a city's boundaries. The order makes it a Class C misdemeanor to possess or sell "skyrockets with sticks" and "missiles with fins" in the unincorporated areas.
In order to ban the aerial fireworks, the county had to meet a state-mandated benchmark of 575 on the Keetch Byram Drought Index. 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.
The KBDI is a tool which is used to determine forest fire potential and is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.
When the order was approved last week, the county measured 670 on the KBDI, said Tyner Little, of the commissioners court administration office of governmental affairs. As of Tuesday, that figure was at 659, still dangerously high for the area, he added.
"Before the rain we got several weeks ago, it was in the 700 to 800 range (on the KBDI), so it only reduced that figure minimally," Little said.
The county also currently has an outdoor burn ban in place that was renewed May 13 and lasts for 90 days. It restricts outdoor burning activities, such as trash and brush burning, for unincorporated areas of the region and will remain in effect, Little said.
It can be renewed in August by the members of the Commissioners Court, he added.
The aerial fireworks ban will remain in place through the month of July, Little said.