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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 04/24/2008

Drought is Down, but not Totally Out

By Matt Ross

Latest drought statistics released

rain-042108.gif
24-hour rainfall totals, in inches, ending 8 a.m. Monday. Courtesy National Weather Service.

I am sure many readers remember the headlines of last summer when the word drought was on the menu for the first time in almost a decade. We had just experienced a four-year stretch (2003-2006) of well-above-average precipitation, including our second wettest year on record (2003). Yet, by the middle of last summer, much of the D.C. area (especially the western suburbs) was running below 50 percent of normal rainfall for the calendar year. Some decent rains in the fall helped cut into the deficit, but most of the area still finished the year with 60-80% of normal precipitation.

So, where do we stand now?

The 2-4" of rain that fell across the metro area on Sunday and Monday brought most of the region to normal precipitation levels for 2008, and was enough to push the "Abnormally Dry" category -- the least-severe drought category -- south of the immediate metro area, according to today's U.S. Drought Monitor. Moderate to severe drought conditions, however, are still as close as north-central and central Virginia, and the metro area is still running anywhere from 6" to 15" below normal rainfall for the last 12 months.

While the drought in our area has lost much of its punch, it will take more than just a one- or two-day soaking to knock it out for good. Hopefully, as we head into summer, we will continue to get both significant and frequent rain events to help close the precipitation gap even more.

By Matt Ross  | April 24, 2008; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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