On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor posted that the Washington area is “abnormally dry,” one category away from drought. Essentially, it means if meaningful rain doesn’t come soon, the drought will be back.
“Generally, many Mid-Atlantic pastures turned brown during the recent heat wave and remain brown in areas where Cindy didn’t provide much rain,” the Drought Monitor said. “The percentage of topsoil moisture rated very short to short in Maryland and was 56 percent [of normal] for the week ending June 25.”
Just 1.13 inches of rain fell in Washington during June, more than 2.5 inches less than normal. Opportunities for rain during the month more often than not fizzled out.
For the year, Washington’s rainfall deficit has climbed to almost four inches. And during the second half of 2016, a deficit of over seven inches accumulated.
Ray Martin, a forecaster at the National Weather Service forecast office in Sterling, Va., said that the last 12 months (through this June) rank sixth driest on record dating back to 1872. “It’s really impressive how dry it’s been,” he said.
Martin said that the wet May “helped alleviate” some of the dry conditions experienced over the region, replenishing soil moisture, as well as river and reservoir levels. But given the dry June, some of the smaller streams close to Washington “are running pretty low”, he said.
Looking ahead, the National Weather Service’s 6 to 10 day and 8 to 14 day outlooks slightly favor above normal rainfall in our region, but the region has reached a time of year when rain chances are dominated by fickle, hit-or-miss thunderstorm activity. Reliable, soaking rains occur less frequently in July and August than they do in May and June, the two wettest months of the year.
“We’re heading into a drier part of the year,” Martin said. “Unless we get a good tropical system, we could be really dry by the end of August. A really dry June isn’t a good way to start summer.”