Improvements? Drought still a big problem for Northeast Alabama

The wet got wetter, and the dry didn’t get enough to help alleviate the drought conditions over the past seven days.  A swath of territory from Wayne and Lawrence Counties in Southern Tennessee southward to Florence, Rogersville, Muscle Shoals, Russellville and Moulton technically have no drought at all; most of Madison and Jackson Counties are still in severe to extreme drought.

Thursday's US Drought Monitor Update

Thursday’s US Drought Monitor Update

According to Alabama’s State Climatologist the northeastern part of Alabama still needs a steady dose of rain to come out of the drought.


“Division 2″ on the map needs as much as 8.45” of rain over a period of weeks to come out of the drought.

Climate divisions four and five need a similar soaking to improve/end the drought from Birmingham eastward to Anniston, Gadsden and south through Sylacauga and Alexander City.

Last week’s rain was too little too late for a lot of farms in Alabama.  Corn crops are already “burned up,” and cotton crops are showing signs of stress.

Some cotton fields in northwestern Madison County are in very poor condition and likely won’t yield as much as they did last year.

So what’s the long-term outlook?

Unless something changes dramatically with respect to the tropical disturbance headed toward Florida, the forecast for most of Alabama is hot and dry through the next seven to ten days.  This particular model run shows only about 1/3″ of rain for Huntsville through September 4th:

GFS raw temperature and rainfall data (may not match "forecasts" since it is guidance)

GFS raw temperature and rainfall data (may not match “forecasts” since it is guidance)

That’s not extremely realistic because in a hot, humid environment like this, individual storms are capable of dropping as much as 1-2″ of rain in an hour’s time. So, expect more uneven rainfall, high evaporation, and in all likelihood, expansion of the drought in coming weeks.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shares the same view through November:


It’ll take something from the tropics to take out the drought. The weather pattern isn’t looking favorable for substantial, consistent rainfall through the Fall.

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