HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – After an exceptionally dry 2016, enough rain fell in the first half of 2017 to help mitigate the drought conditions that developed in the Tennessee Valley.
As of Tuesday, May 30, the U.S. Drought Monitor has determined that “moderate drought (D1) is no longer occurring.” The Drought Monitor does note that “abnormally dry (D0)” conditions still linger in western Colbert and Franklin counties; however, “abnormally dry” conditions are not considered to be drought conditions.
Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Huntsville AL
1132 AM CDT Thu Jun 1 2017
…According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions
have ended in northern Alabama…
According to the Drought Monitor valid Tuesday, May 30th, 2017,
Moderate Drought (D1) is no longer occurring in northern Alabama.
Western portions of Colbert and Franklin Counties contain an
Abnormally Dry (D0) designation, but this is technically not
considered drought. At the time of our last Drought Statement on May
4th, Moderate Drought encompassed portions of southern Cullman County
and small portions of western Colbert and Franklin Counties. The
Cullman and Franklin County portions of Moderate Drought were
removed with the May 23rd U.S. Drought Monitor issuance, while the
Colbert County portion was removed with the issuance this week.
Summaries of Impacts will still be included below to show the
general improvement in conditions that have taken place in recent
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 removed all
counties in Region 1 in northern Alabama from the Drought
Designation. However, Cullman County, which is in Region 3, is still
under a Drought Advisory. For further information about the ADECA
Drought Designations and Planning, see the link near the bottom of
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 30th, the USDA Field
Service Agency reported generally wet conditions in Lawrence County,
which was actually hampering field work. Otherwise, no statements
were included in the report from the FSA in other counties in our
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 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.
Over the last couple of weeks, temperatures have averaged close to
normal for this time of year. Meanwhile, precipitation has been much
above normal across much of northern Alabama, with values as high as
two to three inches above normal along a swath of the area from
Lauderdale County into eastern Morgan County.
During the month of May, temperatures averaged near normal, while
precipitation was above normal for much of north central and
northeastern Alabama, but a little below normal in northwestern
portions of Alabama.
On timescales from two to three months, precipitation has mostly
been near to above normal across the area. However, some longer-term
precipitation deficits still remain, mainly in far western portions
of Lauderdale to Franklin Counties. Due to these small lingering
precipitation deficits, on both short and long term scales, the
Abnormally Dry designation has been retained for these areas.
Temperatures are expected to average above normal into the weekend.
However, a slightly cooler airmass may move into the area by about
the middle of next, bringing temperatures closer to normal or perhaps
a little below normal. Generally low chances for typical warm season
showers and thunderstorms will be present through Saturday. Chances
for precipitation will then increase on Sunday into early next week,
in expectation of the impending cold front.
The 8-14 Day Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for the
period from June 8th to June 14th strongly favors below normal
temperatures. The precipitation outlook indicates equal chances for
above, near or below normal precipitation for the period.
The Monthly Outlook for June from the CPC moderately favors below
normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.
The latest Seasonal Outlook from the CPC for the June through August
period strongly favors above normal temperatures, with equal chances
for below, near or above normal precipitation.
Hydrologic Summary and Outlook…
7-day streamflow averages across the area have experienced
significant improvement in recent weeks. Most streamflow percentiles
are currently around the 80th to 90th percentiles especially in north
central and northeastern Alabama. In northwestern Alabama in the
Abnormally Dry designated areas, some streamflow percentiles are
around the 30th to 40th percentiles.
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. Pickwick Lake
in western Lauderdale and Colbert Counties was running a little above
normal per the latest measurements. Little Bear Creek was running
much below normal, but per a statement from TVA on May 16th, the lake
was drained to normal winter pool levels so a leak in the dam could
be investigated. TVA plans to slowly raise the lake to near normal
summer pool levels over the spring and summer seasons since the
initial phase of the investigation has been completed.
According to the CPC, the latest Daily Soil Moisture rankings
indicate relatively low soil moisture values for this time of year in
portions of Lauderdale, Colbert and Franklin Counties. As of May 31st
soil moisture rankings were in the 20th to 30th percentiles for this
time of year in those areas.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 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, but are only about one to two feet below normal. Water
levels at the USGS site in Lawrence County have averaged close to
normal for most of the month of May.
The outlook for the next week is for near steady or slightly degraded
conditions as overall rainfall totals for this time of year are
expected to average a little below normal.
Next issuance date…
Since no part of the area is currently under a drought designation of
at least Moderate Drought, drought statements will no longer be
issued on a regular basis. However, statements will resume if
drought conditions return to the area.
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:
For information from the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit:
Wildfire information from the Alabama Forestry Commission:
Radar estimated precipitation amounts can be obtained here:
Streamflows are obtained from the USGS here:
Lake levels for the Tennessee River can be obtained here:
USGS groundwater well site information for Alabama:
Some data used in this statement were provided by the U.S.
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