Drought conditions in the Valley have improved considerably since this summer, but abnormally dry conditions still prevail in much of northern Alabama.
This is due to a rainfall deficit that continues to build since the start of 2017: Huntsville is about 2.65 inches below normal, and Muscle Shoals is 2.54 inches below normal.
As of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, only southern portions of Cullman and Franklin counties (AL) are experiencing drought conditions.
000 AXUS74 KHUN 041934 DGTHUN ALC043-059-079-103-061945- Drought Information Statement National Weather Service Huntsville AL 234 PM CDT Thu May 4 2017 ...Drought conditions continue to improve across the area, with only southern portions of Cullman and Franklin (TN) Counties experiencing drought conditions... Synopsis... According to the Drought Monitor valid Tuesday, May 2, 2017, about the southern half of Cullman County, and a small portion of southwestern Franklin County are included in Moderate Drought (D1). In Cullman County, this includes areas generally south of a line from Smith Lake to Good Hope and Hanceville. Much of the remainder of northern Alabama that is a part of the Huntsville County Warning and Forecast area (CWFA) is either considered Abnormally Dry (D0) or has no designation. It's important to note that the D0 designation by the U.S. Drought Monitor is not technically considered a drought condition. The Abnormally Dry designation indicates that some parameters for determining drought indicate a short or long term dryness, but are not sufficient to categorize an area under drought status. Note: Precipitation and other conditions (streamflows, soil moisture,etc.) that determine drought designations each week for the U.S. Drought Monitor are based on data that end at 6AM CST each Tuesday. So, any precipitation that falls after the 6AM cutoff is not factored into designations for that week, but will of course be factored into designations for the following weekly issuance. Also, it's important to note that the designation of drought categories is a multi-faceted process that includes numerous data from a variety of physical systems on different space and time scales, which include precipitation, soil moisture, streamflows, groundwater, and various drought indices, just to name a few. Summary of Impacts... State and local declarations: The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Office of Water Resources placed all of the counties in the Huntsville CWFA in a Drought Advisory per the latest update on April 19th. Agricultural Impacts... Crop and Progress Condition Reports from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service have now resumed for the primary growing season. In the latest report, issued May 1st, no statements were included in the report from the FSA in either Cullman or Franklin Counties. Fire Danger Impacts... Currently, there are no burn restrictions from the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC). Nevertheless, the AFC advises anyone conducting outdoor burning to follow safety precautions. Any fire more than a quarter acre in size or within 25 feet of a forested area requires a permit from the AFC. There are, however, burn restrictions from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) from May through October. No vegetative or land-clearing burning is allowed for DeKalb, Lawrence, Madison or Morgan Counties during this period. Some agricultural and silvicultural burning may be allowed in these counties during this period with prior approval from the ADEM and the AFC. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) available from the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Fire Assessment System shows that values are near or below 200 across the area. Other Impacts... On Feb 13, 2017, the Alabama Forestry Commission issued a press release stating that drought-plagued trees were continuing to die across the state. Then, forestry professionals from across the state of Alabama met to discuss the issue. In a press release dated March 7th, the Alabama Forestry Commission asserted again that large numbers of pine and hardwood trees were dying across the state as a direct result of the drought. Ground inspection from surveys indicated that the drought weakened trees sufficiently to make them more susceptible to infestation and damage by a range of pests, such as the southern pine beetle. The Alabama Forest Commission stated that more areal and ground surveys will be conducted to assess the damage and beetle activity. Climate Summary... Temperatures were very warm for the last few days of April, with most locations averaging around 5 to 15 degrees above normal each day. So far for the first few days of May, temperatures are averaging closer to normal, or even a little below normal. Over the last week, precipitation has been much above normal along a swath from southern Cullman County through much of northeastern Alabama. Precipitation has been below normal meanwhile in northwestern Alabama. Normal weekly rainfall for this time of year is around 1 to 1.25 inches. During the month of April, temperatures averaged well above normal. Temperatures were above normal for most of the first week, but then fell below normal from the 6th to the 8th. Afterwards, temperatures averaged above normal for most of the remainder of the month. The middle part of the month was especially warm, with daytime high temperatures mainly in the 80s and lows in the 50s and 60s, which averaged around 10 degrees above normal for most of this period. Rainfall during April was above normal for locations in northern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee. The heaviest rainfall occurred in eastern areas, from eastern Franklin County (TN) into northeastern Jackson and along Sand Mountain, where amounts were around three to six inches above normal for the month. Southern portions of Cullman County experienced near to slightly above normal rainfall, as did portions of southwestern Franklin County, which are currently under the Moderate Drought designation. However, rainfall has not been sufficient yet to remove this designation from these areas. Longer-term precipitation deficits still remain, which is part of the reason for the continuing drought designations across the area. On 90-day timescales, precipitation amounts are around two to four inches below normal in the Moderate Drought designated areas in southern Cullman and southwestern Franklin Counties. On 180-day timescales (going back to early November, precipitation deficits are generally around four to six inches in this area. Precipitation/Temperature Outlook... Temperatures are expected to average much below normal from today through the weekend across the area. Daytime highs will only be in the 50s on Friday, then warm to near 70 for Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, morning low temperatures are forecast to be in the 40s each day. Temperatures will then warm next week, with temperatures back above normal by the middle of next week. Normal high and low temperatures for this time of year are in the mid to upper 70s and the mid 50s, respectively. Light rain to occasionally moderate rain will affect the area today through Friday night, with amounts totaling generally under one half inch through the period. Chances for rainfall will increase later next week as another potentially strong storm system moves into the region. The Outlook for mid May (May 11 - 17) indicates equal chances for above, near or below normal temperatures and precipitation for the current drought affected areas. The Monthly Outlook for May from the CPC moderately favors above normal temperatures and indicates equal chances for above, below, or near normal rainfall amounts. The latest Seasonal Outlook from the CPC for the May through July period from the CPC strongly favors above normal temperatures, with equal chances for below, near or above normal precipitation for the period. Hydrologic Summary and Outlook... 7-day streamflow averages across the area vary in northern Alabama, but most streamflows have made significant recoveries from the drought conditions experienced last year and early this year. In the current drought stricken areas of southern Cullman County, only the Mulberry Fork near Arkadelphia contains streamflow information and statistics. At that monitoring site, the 7-day average streamflow as of yesterday were in the 22nd percentile, with the stream at just 61% or normal flow. Lake and river levels of Bear Creek and Cedar Creek in western portions of Franklin County were near normal for this time of year. Also, water levels on Lewis Smith Lake in western portions of Cullman County were near normal for this time of year. According to the CPC, the latest Daily Soil Moisture rankings continue to indicate relatively low soil moisture values for this time of year. As of May 3rd soil moister rankings were in the 10th to 20th percentiles for this time of year in southern portions of the CWFA, including Cullman and Franklin Counties. The U.S. Geological Survey groundwater well site in Cullman County shows that groundwater levels fell below the daily median value during the March to late April period last year and remained below average until late March. Groundwater levels finally rose to above the average daily value on March 30th, peaking into early April. Water level values have since fallen back below normal since mid April, with water levels currently about three feet below normal. The outlook for the next week is for near steady conditions due to anticipated rainfall today and tomorrow, and for generally below normal temperature conditions. Next issuance date... The next Drought Statement will be issued as conditions warrant, especially if Moderate Drought conditions expand or retreat in the area, but will be issued regardless within four weeks from today. && Related Web Sites...(use lower case) U.S. Drought Monitor webpage: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu Climate Prediction Center: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov For information about Alabama Drought Declarations, visit: http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/divisions/owr/pages/default.aspx For information from the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit: http://forestry.alabama.gov Wildfire information from the Alabama Forestry Commission: http://forestry.alabama.gov/fire_totals.aspx?bv=1&s=4 Radar estimated precipitation amounts can be obtained here: http://water.weather.gov/precip Streamflows are obtained from the USGS here: http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php Lake levels for the Tennessee River can be obtained here: http://www.tva.com/lakeinfo/ USGS groundwater well site information for Alabama: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/al/nwis/current/ ?type=gw&group_key=county_cd Acknowledgements... Some data used in this statement were provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the States of Alabama and Tennessee. Questions or Comments... For questions or comments on the drought, please contact: National Weather Service Huntsville 320A Sparkman Drive Huntsville, AL 35805 Phone: 256-890-8503 firstname.lastname@example.org $$ KDW