Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Dry Winter Trending Into Dry Start To Spring

After the wettest August-September stretch on record and the wettest year on record in 2011, the end of last year and the start of this year has been rather dry to say the least.  Rainfall since December 1st has totaled 9.22", which is 3.80" below the December-March average tally of 13.00".  While we have a couple of weeks left in March to add to the tally, it's looking rather likely at this point we end up having our third consecutive below average rainfall month in Philadelphia.

If you look at things from a national perspective, our lack of rain pales in comparison to the dry Southwest and Florida, both of which are dealing with prolonged dry spells.   However, it does equal our longest stretch of dry weather since last summer...not necessarily a trend of things to come one way or the other but is a part of the yin and yang of weather that we've seen around here the past fifteen months.

We're faring better than those areas -- and our Spring, while dry so far, is not in as bad a situation as the Southeast.  Soil moisture in the South and also West is in pretty rough shape based on NASA satellite estimates -- and with the South off to a dry start it would not surprise to see a lot of drought issues crop up for Alabama, Georgia, and Florida this year...along with a rather hot summer for them as well.

The wet-dry cycle of rainfall has been evident since the beginning of last year -- we had a three month period of time (May through July) that was rather dry (and also quite hot if you remember last year) as we only picked up 62% of what was considered "normal" for rain around here.  That was then followed by our record setting August and September -- 407% of normal rainfall was recorded between those two months.  Our current dry stretch (going back to December 1) has been at about 80% of normal rainfall, not excessively dry or anything that screams drought by any stretch.   The dry weather, however, has helped to keep us warm more easily in these mild days of late as the ground is better able to absorb the sun's rays and heat the ground.

While we're not worrying about drought yet, we wouldn't mind seeing *some* rainfall late this week when the front that will bring an end to our warm pattern pushes through the East.