Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drought spreads in Virginia

In today's U.S. Drought Monitor update, Virginia's dry conditions have increased slightly since last week as we continue to lag behind in our year-to-date precipitation.

Since the beginning of the year, Abnormally Dry conditions have grown from being non-existent to affecting just more than 59% of the Commonwealth. Moderate Drought conditions now cover 11.6% of the state. Most of the damage has been done over the past few months.

In fact, most of our year-to-date rainfall deficit of 4.36" (through August 10th) is since June 1st (-3.30")! So far this August, we haven't officially made it to even a tenth of an inch of rainfall officially at Richmond International Airport, 3.63" in July (below-normal by almost an inch), and 3.03" in June (below-normal by about a half-inch). Why is this significant? Because we rely on Summertime rainfall to keep us on track for annual rainfall, and we entered the Summer lagging behind. As you can see on the chart below, July is typically our wettest month out of the entire year (usually from Summertime thunderstorm activity). Instead, we ended up short.

Now we'll need to cross our fingers for one (or both) of two things: upper storm tracks moving closer to Virginia instead of passing too far to the North (requires a dip in the jet stream farther South in our area), or tropical systems/remnants passing over the Commonwealth (which can especially happen through October). Speaking of the can keep up with the latest activity using our Hurricane Tracker Tool by clicking here. As far as the overall outlook for rainfall, here is the latest three-month (Aug-Sept-Oct) outlook for the U.S.:

What we would like to see for the Mid-Atlantic is a good chance for an "above normal" green area over us, so that we can make up the deficit. However, even if we only get average rainfall into early Autumn, we'll still come up short for our year-to-date so far.

The plus side of the outlook is that extended, extreme heat does not appear to be on the return for us:

The James River continues to remain low in the River City. As of this posting, the James River at the Westham gauge is 3.4FT. The record low-mark for the river level there is 2.0FT from September 22, 1966. You can check the latest conditions for Richmond by clicking here.
Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

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