Drought Information For Central Alabama Updated March 23rd, 2017
Drought Conditions Linger Across Much of Central Alabama
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that Extreme Drought conditions persist across portions of Central Alabama. Extreme Drought is found to the right of a line from near Leeds to Alabaster to Mccalla to Abernant to Bankhead Lock and Dam to Tutwiler to Forestdale to Leeds. Moderate to Severe Drought covers areas roughly north of a line from Cuba to Fawnsdale to Mertz to Calera to Goodwater to Dickert to Graham. Remaining areas in south-central Alabama are indicated to be abnormally dry or near normal.
The Drought Monitor classifies drought within one of these five categories:
A cold front brought some light rainfall to Central Alabama last Friday night and Saturday. Cumulative totals were under a quarter of an inch in most areas with isolated amounts to near one half inch in northern sections. This was insufficient to reduce the effects of the long term drought conditions across the area and stream flows across the area have returned to below normal at most USGS Stream Gauge sites..
Some precipitation amounts for Central Alabama from January 1st through March 22nd (For up to the most recent climate report...click on the city.):
Average precipitation expected from January 1st through March 22nd:
Soil moisture values in general are running below normal in most of Central Alabama with the greatest deficits in the northern sections. Substantial rainfall is needed to erase the deficits.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported at the end of February that many water supplies had been replenished and crops were responding to the increased moisture and warm weather. Pastures had improved and some producers had adequate hay supplies to support their herd. Wheat and oats were looking good for the time of year. Cattle were in generally good condition. Preparations were being made for spring planting. Trees continue to bud out. It is not known at this time how much the freezing temperatures earlier this month may have damaged crops across the area.
Fire Danger Impacts...
The fire danger remains low across Central Alabama withKeetch-Byram Drought Indices (KBDI) below 100 across most of the area with isolated areas between 100 and 200 in some northern areas. Values above 500 indicate a severe fire danger.
While the statewide burn ban has been rescinded, there remains concern that many pine trees could be infested with pine beetles and die due to the drought that has plagued the state. The state forester continues to urge people that are doing any outside burning to follow safety precautions such as not leaving any fire unattended and having the proper equipment and personnel to control the fire. This in based on information from the Alabama Forestry Commission.
Hydrologic Summary and Outlook...
The latest USGS stream gauge data indicates that stream flows have once again fallen to below normal across much of Central Alabama for this time of year. Periodic substantial rainfall will need to occur for stream flows to return to normal or above normal levels as we move into the spring season.
Some of the major reservoir pool levels have begun to rise slowly as reservoir operators are beginning to raise them toward their summer pool levels. Listed below are current levels for some of the major reservoirs across Central Alabama and those from March 16th.
Level for 03/23/17
Level for 03/16/17
Reservoir levels are slowly beginning to rise as reservoir operators begin to raise them toward their summer pool levels. Although some mostly voluntary water restrictions are still in effect many water restrictions have been lifted by local water boards.
Precipitation & Temperature Outlook...
Dry weather returned to Central Alabama this week in the wake of the cold front that moved across the area last weekend. Dry weather will continue across the area today and Friday but a chance for some light rainfall will return over the weekend and into the first part of next week as a series of weather systems move from the southwestern U.S. northeastward and bring an unsettled weather pattern to the area. Cumulative rainfall amounts are forecast to average from around half an inch in the southeastern sections to an inch or more in the western portions of the area by next Wednesday.
The Two Week Outlook...from March 28th through April 5th...calls for above normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
The Longer-Range Outlook for May through June is for above normal temperatures and equal chances for above normal...near normal or below normal precipitation.
The latest Seasonal Drought Outlook through June indicates that drought conditions are expected to persist over about the northern half of Central Alabama.
This next statement will be issued around Thursday March 30th.