Even though the growing season is getting off to a quick start and everything is “greening up,” we’re getting ever so closer to a drought. Precipitation departures keep inching up with very little rain to help out. This weekend’s storm, though, is coming at a good time to play catch up!
Winter wasn’t too exciting and spring has blossomed earlier than average...but the lack of precipitation is making for a dry start to 2012. As a matter of fact, precipitaton is so far behind par that the Department of Agriculture has expanded the Abnormally Dry area into much of our region. Southern Maryland is now in a Moderate Drought.
This classification comes as the 2-month rainfall deficits are 3 to 5 inches (less than 60% of average) across the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Locally, the driest spot is Salisbury, Md., with a rainfall deficit of 3.50 inches. In addition, the lack of rain has caused water flow in streams and creeks to drop well-below average. What is the water stage on the river or creek near your house? Click here for more details. Simply click on the dot on the map to get the river location and information.
Locally, precipitation departures are rather impressive for the month so far and even the first quarter of the year:
March at Reagan National: -2.09 inch
2012 to-date at Reagan National: -3.00 inches
March at BWI Marshal Airport: -1.74 inches
2012 at BWI: Marshal Airport: -2.73 inches
March at Dulles International: -1.48 inches
2012 at Dulles International: -2.81 inches
The problem with the lack of rain this time of the year is the fire danger. Less than average sufficient soil moisture coupled with dry winds like we will see on Monday as a dry cold front swings in from the north can often produce a risk for wildfires. The sun is able to penetrate the forest floor more easily since leaves have not fully developed. Humidity is typically not as efficient as it can be in the summer with lack of vegetation to give off water vapor in March and early April.
All that coupled with lack of stored ground water due to the mild and dry winter we had tends to allow any open burning to spread fast and furious. Looking ahead to April, May and June, monthly precipitation averages tend to decline. Average rainfall in March is 3.60 inches, by April it’s down to 2.77 inches. May typically has more rain with an average of 3.82 inches while June edges down to 3.13 inches.
Looking ahead for this weekend, rainfall will average around one-half inch with isolated spots south of the Nation's Capital getting an inch. With that in mind, the seasonal drought outlook through the first month of the summer calls for enough rain to bring improving drought conditions to southern Maryland.