Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Drought Relief

The winter has been warm and dry for much of the Southeast.  Weather patterns have been quite dry and much of the area has been slipping farther into drought.  The worst stage drought (exceptional drought) first showed up across southern Georgia about a month ago.

The exceptional drought as of last week stretched from southeast Alabama across southern Georgia into the low country of South Carolina.  Almost all of the low country of South Carolina was in extreme or exceptional drought and that extended along the Savannah River to north of Augusta.  Farmers in South Carolina were being hurt by the weather and high fuel prices as seen here.

This past weekend saw the first good rain in months for much of South Carolina.  In the exceptional drought area of the low country amounts ranged from 1 to 2 inches.  Both Charleston and Beaufort received near 2 inches of rain.

The Midlands saw amounts ranging from .75" to 1.25", however there were heavier amounts.  Pelion received the greatest total over the two day period with 1.79".  This was followed by Lugoff with 1.53" and Johnston with 1.52".  Columbia received 1.09" which was about normal for much of the area.  Most of the rain fell Saturday night and it was welcome relief for the drought stricken areas.

There is hope that more rain will come to the area later this week.  The U.S. Hazards map for the period of February 23-27 is showing the possibility of heavy rains from central Alabama into western South Carolina.  This is a little north of the worst areas, but it would help keep the drought from expanding temporarily.

Image credit: NOAA\CPC.

Transitory storm systems moving across the country are beginning to tap moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.  How long this will last is uncertain, but there are signs it may last into early March.  The outlook for next week is for warmer than normal conditions for much of the Southeast.

There is a greater that 50% chance that South Carolina will see above normal temperatures.  Image Credit: NOAA\CPC.

The precipitation pattern will be a wet one from the central Gulf coast northward through the Tennessee River Valley and into the Northeast.  These areas already have sufficient moisture, but the drought areas of the Southeast many still see beneficial rains from these systems.

The green areas represent above normal rainfall.  Near normal precipitation is expected for much of South Carolina.  Image Credit: NOAA\CPC.
Rainfall remains about half of normal for the month of February and the year even with the rain over the weekend.  However, it is possible to make up some of the deficit before the planting season really gets underway.

It is important to get as much rain as possible over the next six weeks.  Many of the vegetables will be planted in April and the rain is needed for adequate soil moisture.  Dry weather is expected for much of the spring so that the rain now is sorely needed.  More on the seasonal outlook later.