Missing rainfall: drier, hotter weather setting in

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Remember back at Christmas when we thought it would never stop raining?  January was a little drier than normal, it rained like crazy again in February, March wasn’t too far off the norm for rainfall, and April brought some big soakers.  May is usually the third wettest calendar month in the Tennessee Valley; when it doesn’t rain in May, that’s a big deal for agriculture and for recreation on lakes down the line.

Data pix.

The rainfall deficit so far in 2016 in Huntsville stands at -4.85” while Muscle Shoals is already down -5.69” this year.  Prospects for guaranteed, widespread soaking rain are not good for the next week.  A few spots will see some hit-or-miss showers and storms, but the majority of us get little to nothing rain-wise.

That just means summertime heat has a chance to take hold earlier than normal; outside of a few days where remnant clouds from nearby storms keep temperatures under 90ºF, we look for it to get hot and stay hot for the foreseeable future.

Friday and Saturday offer the best chance of scattered showers and storms, but 30% is far from a guarantee (or a reason to change any outdoor plans) at this point.

Looking ahead at long-term rain chances:  The NOMADS ensemble is often a good guide to look for long term rainfall potential, and there is not a single day through the first week of June in which the chance of at least 0.10” (in a 24-hour period) exceeds 50%.

NOMADS Ensemble (Monday, May 23)

NOMADS Ensemble (Monday, May 23)

There will be some chances here and there, but it’s not looking good if you need some wet weather anytime soon.

Sprinklers Needed: The Alabama Office of the State Climatologist produces these charts every week detailing how soil moisture is doing for lawns, gardens, and crops; that information goes into the Palmer Drought Index which so far does not show major drought conditions in this area.

We technically are not in a drought, but it has been very, very dry lately.  Much of the Tennessee Valley needs somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-4 inches of rain just to get back on par for "normal" in 2016.

So, sprinklers will be needed in coming days and weeks; watering early in the morning while the humidity is high and evaporation potential is low works best!

-Jason
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