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March 17, 2017 March precipitation, both rain and snow/ice water equivalent, has been heaviest in the Delmarva Peninsula and southeast Virginia where amounts have been near to an inch or so above normal. Precipitation in the rest of Maryland and much of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia has been around normal. For the rest of Virginia, amounts have been 1/2 to 1 inch below normal. Temperatures have been near normal or a degree or two below. Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been 2 to 4 inches below except for areas in western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and even the northern half of Delaware. Here, precipitation amounts have been near normal. Over the past 6 months, the driest areas have been in central Maryland into much of northern and central Virginia where precipitation has been 4 to 8 inches below average.

As of March 17, western-most Maryland has 5 to 8 inches of snow on the ground. The rest of Maryland (west of the Chesapeake Bay), northern and western-most Virginia, and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia have 1 to 3 inches on the ground. Little or no snow is the ground elsewhere. The water equivalent of this snow (or the water in the snowpack that will be released when the snow melts) is 1/2 to 1 inch where snow is on the ground. This amount of snow is, for the most part, not hydrologically significant. http://www.weather.gov/marfc/Snow

Current (March 17) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are much below normal except for the Delmarva Peninsula and areas around the Chesapeake Bay where flows are near normal. Groundwater levels are averaging mostly below normal.

The U.S. Drought Monitor from March 14 shows that southern Maryland and northern Virginia in the vicinity of the District of Columbia are in "Severe Drought." Central Maryland and much of northern and central Virginia are in "Moderate Drought." This is an increase in coverage in Virginia over the past week but a decrease in coverage for Delaware and eastern Maryland.

"Severe Drought" means that crop or pasture losses are likely, water shortages are common, and water restrictions may be imposed. "Moderate Drought" means that some damage to crops and pastures is possible. Streams, reservoirs, or wells are low with some water shortages developing or imminent. And, voluntary water-use restrictions are requested. For further information and a map of drought areas, go to http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

The state of Maryland has a "Drought Warning" in effect for central and northeastern parts of the state. A "Drought Watch" is in effect for areas east of the Chesapeake Bay. http://www.mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/droughtinformation/pages/water/drought/index.aspx

The weather outlook through the end of March calls a fairly dry start but then above average precipitation. Temperatures are expected to be near or below normal. The NWS Climate Prediction Center's 30 day outlook for March calls for near average precipitation and above average temperatures. The 90 day outlook for March through May calls for near average precipitation and above average temperatures.

The outlook for water resources and water supplies is fair for the Delmarva Peninsula and areas around the Chesapeake Bay. The outlook is poor west of this area. A dry weather pattern has settled in. There are currently no strong signs for prolonged stormy weather. So, improvement remains unlikely in the upcoming weeks. Further degrading is possible if this dry weather pattern continues as we head into spring, when the usage of water typically increases.

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