Drought persists after a soggy December
The Tennessee Valley continues to experience drought conditions, despite the wet month of December. Huntsville has picked up 5.58 inches of rain as of December 30th, but remains in a 10.07 inch deficit. The rain we’ve received the past few weeks has helped us keep up with the drought, but not make significant improvements.
Most of the Valley is still in a “severe” drought, but East Alabama remains under an “extreme” drought. That is a slight improvement from November, when the drought was at its peak and over one third of Alabama was in an “exceptional” drought.
Eastern Alabama is in the worst of the drought. The difference between the eastern half of the Valley and the western half can best be noted by the Palmer Drought Index. This index gives us an idea of how much rain would be needed to end the drought. As of the latest index released by state Climatologist Dr. John Christy, the Northern Valley (which includes the counties of Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Limestone, Laurence, Madison, and Morgan) would only need about 2 inches of rain to end the drought. When you move east over the Appalachian Mountain region (which includes the counties of Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb and Cullman) that number jumps up to near 10 inches.
We’ll need this wet pattern to continue through the rest of winter so that soil and crop moisture can recover for the coming Spring. As of now, it looks like the next two months could bring more good news for drought sufferers. Model trends suggest another decently rainy month ahead, and the Climate Prediction Center is calling for near normal or slightly above average precipitation over the next 3 months.