Monday, June 17, 2013

Imagine that -- no drought!

I've heard from a number of you about all the rain we've had recently in the Charlotte region, and while nearly everyone says we "need the rain," I also frequently hear that "enough is enough."

But the rain is good news, in at least one way. For the first time in three years, none of North Carolina has "dry" or "drought" conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Charlotte's official measuring station at Charlotte Douglas International Airport shows more than 5.6 inches of rain has fallen so far in June. That's well more than twice the average for June 17, and conditions indicate quite a bit of additional rain is possible this week.

Some locations in the region have been hit with much more. There are a number of automated stations showing rainfall of 8 inches or more this month.  A couple inches of rain fell early Monday in parts of Burke and McDowell counties, for example.

Some of this month's rain was courtesy of Tropical Storm Andrea, of course, but there also have been a couple of stalled fronts and slow-moving low pressure systems responsible for downpours.

The central and western part of North Carolina escaped the "dry" classification earlier this year, and now Tropical Storm Andrea's rain has lifted the eastern third of the state from that classification.

Scientists say this is the first time since the week of April 20, 2010, that not an inch of the Tar Heel State is experiencing either "dry" or "drought" conditions. There have been times during that period when the Charlotte area was classified as experiencing drought, but rainfall has been quite plentiful locally for several months.

All this can change in a hurry, of course.

Evaporation can take place quickly in summer.  A strong high pressure system over the Southeast can create searing heat, which dries the ground in a hurry and tends to cut off the development of afternoon and evening thunderstorms -- thereby reinforcing the dry conditions. That happened near the end of June last summer.

"North Carolina's rainfall becomes more difficult to forecast -- as well as less reliable -- in the summer months," said Michael Moneypenny, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Raleigh. "Weather systems are typically weaker, and the bulk of our rainfall comes from scattered shower and thunderstorm activity that pops up during the heat of the day."

For now, however, we can enjoy life without concerns about whether it's OK to water our lawns or wash our cars.


Anonymous said...

Very good news!

Anonymous said...

I forget: does global warming cause drought or too much rain? Or both?

stephen said...

How quickly could we return to a drought state? Is there a daily average rainfall quota to meet, or does it depend on weather conditions?