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Drought Buster? Heavy rain this week may not be enough to end the drought

Drier and hotter than normal weather for most of the summer finally dried North Alabama out enough to be in an official ‘drought.’  Most of us are in the ‘too dry’ category, but some have been drier than others and are now in moderate drought.

Dr. John Christy, Alabama’s State Climatologist, submits information to the U.S. Drought Monitor weekly to show how our state is doing, and his most recent assessment shows the need for a lot more rain to formally ‘end’ the drought: especially over Northeast Alabama.

Alabama Office of the State Climatologist, September 2018

Recent rainfall not enough:

Dr. Christy’s analysis shows that zones 1, 2, and 4 need more than five inches of rain to get out of drought; that’s most of North Alabama.

Here’s what we have since last Friday (September 21st), NEXRAD estimates show anywhere from six-plus inches of rain in Lawrence County, Tennessee to as little as a quarter-inch in a few counties in North Alabama.  Every drop counts, but this won’t get the job done.

Rainfall from 9/21 through 3:30 PM 9/25

Soaking rain helps soon:

Wednesday looks like the wettest day of the week; if you haven’t gotten much rain yet, Wednesday is your day. A cold front moving in from the northwest will focus all of this sticky tropical humidity over the region and bring several waves of showers and thunderstorms. Some of the heavier downpours could produce up to four inches of rain through Wednesday and Thursday.

All day rain, or just spotty showers? A 70% chance of rain for Wednesday and a 50% chance of rain for Thursday: does that mean it will rain all day long and soak everyone?

Wednesday is the closest thing to an all-day rain (even though it will be on-and-off) that we’ll see this time of year. The majority of the rainfall comes between 6 AM and 3 PM, but some showers may linger into Wednesday afternoon and evening as well.

Thursday, on the other hand, is a ‘split decision.’ The cold front gets far enough south that some of North Alabama and Southern Tennessee completely dries out; for most of Central and northeastern Alabama, it stays showery with occasional downpours and a few thunderstorms through Thursday afternoon and evening.

So how much in all?

One model’s interpretation (the NAM) is probably overdone on the whole, but it does show the potential for as much as 2-3″ of rainfall through Saturday.

NAM projected rainfall through Saturday

So this might not be enough to totally rid ourselves of the drought that has slowly built over the summer, but it is a step in the right direction!

Track heavy storms with WHNT.com’s Interactive Radar or swipe over to the radar feature on Live Alert 19!

Looking for the forecast? It’s always online at WHNT.com/Weather and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

-Jason
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