On the other hand, we’re going to come face to face with drought problems if things don’t start to shift.
Nineteen rainless days is a long time, but it’s not a record for Washington. The longest this area has ever gone without rain is 34 days in 2007. That was also a dry September which lasted into October.
Just 1.43 inches of rain fell last month, which was more than two inches below average and the third-driest month of the year so far.
Given the current forecast, this streak will probably last through at least the end of the week. Around Sunday, there’s a slight chance a cold front will drop into the area, which could provide some rain. However, it’s possible the forecast models are too eager to break down this ridge of high pressure we’ve been under since the middle of September. If that’s the case, this streak could climb toward the top five longest on record.
In its outlook for October, the Climate Prediction Center suggested this month isn’t likely to make up for the September deficit.
The weather pattern is expected to stay the same through at least the first half of the month, they say, with “robust troughing” (read: rainy days) out west, and “large positive height departures” (read: warm, sunny weather) in the Central and Eastern United States. Beyond that, things become uncertain.
Since January, we’ve seen some very rainy months punctuated by extreme dry spells. In all, the year is running close to average. But the extremely dry months take a toll on the plants; you might notice the tops of some trees are starting to change color already, which is a sign they are stressed.
As of last week, drought conditions were beginning to creep along the Appalachian Mountains, with parts of West Virginia only seeing a third of their normal September rainfall.
In the D.C. region, drought conditions were not present. But if we don’t start to see things change in the next month or two, with average months to finish out the year, we’ll be talking about droughts again in the spring.