The Capitol and its reflection in a puddle on Saturday. (Carol Jean Stalun via Flickr)

In a matter of days, Washington’s rainfall fortunes have shifted from famine to feast. As if the weather gods were listening, torrents have come down since a severe drought was declared at the start of February.

“Seventy percent of Washington’s rain in the last 90 days has come in the last eight days,” said Jason Elliott, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service office serving the Washington area. “We’ve definitely made a dent in the drought.”

Nearly 4 inches of rain have fallen since February began, with at least an inch on three separate days. Rain or mixed precipitation has fallen on seven of the 12 days. Here is the breakdown:

  • Feb. 1: 0.02 inches
  • Feb. 2: 0.04 inches
  • Feb. 4: 1.12 inches
  • Feb. 7: 0.49 inches
  • Feb. 10: 1.06 inches
  • Feb. 11: 1.05 inches
  • Feb. 12: 0.09 inches

More rain has fallen this month (3.87 inches) than during all of November, December and January combined (3.44 inches).

Over the weekend, when 1 to 6 inches poured over the region, some designated drought areas were under flood warnings at the same time. A “weird situation,” Elliot said.


72-hour estimated rainfall through midday Monday. (National Weather Service)

The heaviest weekend rainfall amounts focused just south and east of Washington. Widespread 3-to-5-inch amounts fell in the zone from Fredericksburg to Annapolis. Here are some select totals from across the region:

  • Upper Marlboro: 3.63 inches
  • Waldorf: 5.85 inches
  • Dunkirk, Md.: 4.79 inches

Despite all the recent rain, Elliott said the drought is not over even if it has eased. “The 90-to-180-day rainfall deficits are still in the 3-to-6-inch range,” he said.

More rainfall forecast in the next week could further eat into that deficit. The forecast is for rain showers at times between late Wednesday and Friday night, and 0.5 to 1.0 inches are possible.


Rainfall forecast through Saturday for the Washington area from the National Weather Service. (WeatherBell.com)

“If we can keep getting these regular rains every three or four days, it will slowly chip away at this, and we might be in good shape in mid-to-late spring,” Elliott said.