Winter Drought Conditions Could Spell Problems for Summer

Last summer’s predictions of a warm, dry, winter thus far have come true. Information from the National Oceanic Information Administration pegged much of the US east of the Mississippi as having experienced the fourth warmest January on record, and the warmest since 2006. NC State Climatologist, Dr. Ryan Boyles:
 

“There are a lot of concerns about what could happen. While we don’t see a lot of impacts from the dry weather that we’ve had right now, there’s not a lot of growth going on in the agriculture sector right now, there’s not a lot of demand on our water supply. But, if this persists, where much of central and eastern North Carolina is really very dry, much, much below normal rainfall, as we move into the spring, as the demand for water from both vegetation and from humans really ramps up into the warm season, we’re going to have some problems.”
 

And if you think it’s been dry in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have been worse:
 

“Parts of southeastern North Carolina have been dry, they’ve been even dryer through South Carolina and Georgia. Much of what we’re seeing through that area, is a combination of again the warm winter that we’ve had, but also the way the storms have been tracking. Not a lot of storms have been tracking up out of the Gulf, have not had a lot of coastal storms to bring rain to the coastal Plain, most of the storms have been tracking much further west and further north, there just not bringing substantial moisture to these areas. Where in many areas we’re looking t that D-3 and that D-4 across South Carolina and Georgia as drought potential. What’s the potential impacts that can come here in the coming months if we don’t have substantial change in our rainfall patterns.”
 

While drought is a subjective term, Boyles says that the impacts of the dry winter will happen:
 

“For some folks when they go outside and they walk through the muddy field, they say ‘what drought?’, ‘what are we concerned about?’. It’s not until we start looking at things like the record low stream flows in the Tar, and the Neuse river basins, and even the Cape Fear river basin. It’s not until we start looking at where the water table level is here this time of year, versus normal. That’s the objective data that we have to really suggest that not only have we been dry, that it’s going to take substantial moisture for us to try and have recovery for this time of year. It can still happen, but as we move into the spring and summer if we don’t get the type of rainfall that we need, it really increases the chances of serious problems this summer.”
 


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