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Keetch-Byram Drought Index

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is basically a mathematical system for relating current and recent weather conditions to potential or expected fire behavior. This system was originally developed for the southeastern United States and is based primarily on recent rainfall patterns.

The KBDI is the most widely used drought index system by fire managers in the south. It is also one of the only drought index systems specifically developed to equate the effects of drought with potential fire activities.


The result of this system is a drought index number ranging from 0 – 800 that accurately describe the amount of moisture that is missing. A rating of zero defines the point where there is no moisture deficiency and 800 is the maximum drought possible.

Expected fire conditions and suppression problems with varying KBDI levels:

0 – 200 
Fire Danger
Soil and fuel moisture is high. Most fuels will not readily ignite or burn. However, with sufficient sunlight and wind, cured grasses and some light surface fuels will burn in spots and patches.

200 – 400
Fire Danger

Fires more readily burn and will carry across an area with no "gaps". Heavier fuels will still not readily ignite and burn. Also, expect smoldering and the resulting smoke to carry into and possibly through the night.
400 - 600
Fire Danger
Fire intensity begins to significantly increase. Fires will readily burn in all directions exposing mineral soils in some locations. Larger fuels may burn or smolder for several days creating possible smoke and control problems
600 – 800
Fire Danger
Surface litter and most of organic layer is consumed. 1000 hour fuels contribute to intensity. Stumps will burn to the end of roots underground. Any dead snag will ignite. Spotting from snags is a major problem if close to line. Expect dead limbs on trees to ignite from sparks. Expect extreme intensity on all fires which makes control efforts difficult. With winds above 10 miles per hour, spotting is the rule. Expect increased need for resources for fire suppression. Direct initial attack is almost impossible. Only rapid response time to wildfire with complete mop-up and patrol will prevent a major fire situation from developing.

Burn Ban Information

A burn ban is an emergency declaration put out by the Commissioners Court and the County Judge which prohibits any out door burning or open flame. This is brought about through recommendations of the Fire Marshal, forest service and weather service. In addition, a scale (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) is used, which measures the moisture in the soil that is directly proportional to that found in vegetation. 

For additional information, please visit the Texas Forest Service's website.

Texas Forest Service's Website