Spring 2017 is abnormally dry: Is the Valley headed for another drought?

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It's been a relatively dry spring period for the Tennessee Valley, and while that is good for school sports and other recreational activities, it is rather concerning considering what we experienced in 2017.

Over the next seven days, the forecast call for highs in the upper 80s/lower 90s with isolated chances of rain. Consistently hot temperatures stress not only our lawns and house plants, but also the soil and crops that sustain our local farmers -- and indeed, our own dinner tables!

Rainfall deficits in the Valley are approaching the 4-inch mark, which is very similar to what transpired in the spring of 2016.

More specifically, though, the spring months (March, April and May) of 2017 exhibited below average rainfall for the Valley. In March, Huntsville missed 1.30 inches of rain. The city missed out on another quarter of an inch in April, and rainfall deficits are running about three-quarters of an inch -- so far -- for May. For spring 2017, Huntsville missed out on over 2 inches of rain, which is not a good set up heading into the hot and dry months of the summer.

The slightly silver lining to the lack of raindrops? It is not as dire as what happened in spring 2016, when Huntsville recorded a 6.3 inch rainfall deficit before heading into summer.

As of May 14, drought conditions are limited to abnormally dry soils as well as an area of moderate in central Alabama. This is similar compared to a year ago, so if rain does not return to the Valley during the second half of May, it does not bode well for the region still recovering from last year's severe drought.

With that said, the return of warm, humid air this week means that an isolated shower or storm cannot be ruled out; however, we do not anticipate any major rain activity because the "forcing mechanism" necessary to lift the warm, humid air high enough to produce clouds (and eventually rain) is limited to the Valley's mountainous terrain.

What we really need are a series of surface lows bringing cold fronts to the area in order to produce the more widespread, heavy rain that is necessary to fend of yet another drought, and unfortunately, those systems are being blocked by the surface high that will park off the Atlantic Coast this week.

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