As we begin to move into the Warmer Spring and Hotter Summer months, it’s time once again to monitor the drought situation in Georgia and the south more closely.
Since my last drought update on February 2, the situation in Georgia has not improved. In fact, only 4.39 percent of the state is without drought at this time compared to 14.41 percent 2 months ago.
Due to lack of rainfall this winter we are seeing ‘abnormally dry’ conditions creep back into North Georgia quite early this year. In central and south Georgia drought conditions overall have not improved greatly, except in the southeast corner where a small area is now in ‘severe drought’ down from ‘extreme’.
Here are some rainfall totals for select areas in Georgia from the National Weather Service Peachtree City GA.:
LOCATION TOTAL RAINFALL NORMAL DEPARTURE PERCENT
LAST 365 DAYS VALUE FROM NORMAL OF NORMAL
ATLANTA 32.93 49.76 -16.83 66%
ATHENS 30.14 46.39 -16.25 65%
COLUMBUS 38.39 46.78 -8.39 82%
MACON 28.66 45.72 -17.06 63%
Across the southeast and the rest of the nation we see some improvement in Texas north to Kansas, while Florida and the northeast remain dry.
The areas in Florida and the northeast this past weekend continuing today in the northeast have seen some much needed rains due to a Low pressure developing in the Gulf of Mexico. The LP moved over areas of the Florida Panhandle and up the east coast where it has joined with another low bringing rains and April snow to the northeast. How much drought relief in these areas is yet to be calculated.
Here is a graphic showing Percentage of Normal precipitation in the Southeast since the beginning of 2012 through April 19 2012. Notice the darker RED shaded areas, which have seen much below normal rainfall since the beginning of 2012.
Here is a graphic showing Departure from Normal Precipitation April 2011 through March 2012. Again, the darker shaded RED areas show area that have seen little rainfall. Some areas are 16 to 20 inches below normal for the lats 12 months.
If all this was not bad enough concerning drought in the higher impacted areas across the U.S., the seasonal drought outlook for April through June of 2012 paints a dry picture, where drought is to persist or intensify.
Concerning the drought situation in the southeast; the National Weather Service / Southeast River Forecast Center released and assessment on April 17 2012. Here’s an excerpt of what was stated in the release. Needless to say, it’s not looking good for the southeast….
National Weather Service
Southeast River Forecast Center
Hydrologic Vulnerability Assessment – Drought
4:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, 2012
… Lack of rainfall during the month of March over much of the Southeast has helped to intensify the drought in parts of Alabama and South Carolina, and much of Georgia and Florida …
Typically each year the Southeast usually sees significant improvement in its water resource situation during the month of March. Climatologically, March can produce flooding as well as beneficial recharge to reservoirs, rivers, and groundwater. This has not been a typical year, and therefore, a variety of factors have led to the deterioration of water resource conditions.
The forecast for the May, June, and July time frame looks similar to what the Southeast is experiencing now. With no large-scale weather pattern, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast. With initial conditions being so dire right now, below-normal precipitation would produce significant problems across many of the areas already dealing with drought conditions, causing reservoirs to fall more quickly than in the past. Even normal rainfall will not help conditions significantly. Above-normal rainfall will be needed to improve conditions.
You can read the whole report with graphics here. This is a PDF – http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/USNWS/2012/04/17/file_attachments/106813/HVA_apr1612.pdf