WORSENING DROUGHT IN THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION
What's Going On
Drought has developed across
a large part of the mid-Atlantic region, and the recent heat
has rapidly intensified the dryness, with daily record highs
on Monday of 98 F at DCA on and 96 F at IAD and BWI and more
record highs expected on Tuesday. In the Mid-Atlantic region,
the drought is centered over Maryland and Virginia, but also
extends southward into Florida and other parts of the Deep South
as well as northward into parts of New England. According to
the long-term Palmer
Drought Index, all of Maryland except the western panhandle
is in severe to extreme drought, with northern Virginia in the
severe drought category.
Besides southern Maryland,
other areas of the country experiencing extreme drought
The drought is now having major impacts on farming up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In Maryland and Virginia, soil moisture is rated adequate in only about 10% of each state, with nearly 90% of both states short topsoil moisture. As a result, corn is beginning to wilt in many localities. In the Carolinas, the crop situation is critical, with crops entering their critical stages of development. Rainfall has been 3 to 9 inches below normal since March 1 in North Carolina. In South Carolina, corn faces a potential complete loss if rain does not come soon. In Georgia, 49% of the pastureland is rated in poor to very poor condition, with 41% of the corn and soybeans in poor or very poor shape.
What is the Outlook?
A cooling trend is expected later this week across the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions, culminating in a return to near-normal precipitation and temperatures by the middle of next week.
The summer seasonal forecast
for the local region is for near normal rainfall. Although this
will provide some relief for agriculture, the long-term deficits
will not be erased unless the region experiences a tropical storm
The extended outlook for the
fall and winter is for a continuation of La Niña impacts
How did this happen?
U.S. climate during last year was strongly affected by La Niña. The U.S. wintertime impacts of this were well. predicted by the CPC.
The La Niña played a
role in producing the rainfall deficits across the southern tier
states and also the mid-Atlantic region.
Georgia, and Florida should improve the dry situation in those states, especially in the Florida peninsula, where 1 to 4 inches of rain is expected over the next 5 days.
Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, long-range rainfall forecasts in the U.S. are notoriously unreliable during the summer, but a new soil moisture model being tested at CPC that uses analogues to project future weather and moisture conditions suggests that most of the dryness should be history by late August along the Eastern Seaboard, with the greatest risk of drought displaced westward from the Ohio Valley southward to the lower Mississippi Valley. Moisture conditions in the Great Plains may remain wetter-than-normal for much of the summer.
The forecast of increased moisture along the southeastern coast is compatible with indications of an abnormally active tropical storm system in the Atlantic this summer and fall.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center for information about extended range seasonal forecasts, impacts of El Niño and La Niña, seasonal trends in U.S. temperature and rainfall: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
The Drought Mitigation Center for general information about drought and drought impacts: http://enso.unl.edu/ndmc