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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 03/26/2009

Moderate Drought for D.C. Metro Area

By Dan Stillman

Rainy period a real relief

* Rainy Afternoon & Evening: Full Forecast | Owning the Weather *

Latest U.S. Drought Monitor maps for Maryland and D.C. (top) and Virginia (bottom), released today.

April showers have arrived early, and it's none too soon.

You don't need a meteorologist to know you haven't used your umbrella much lately. Unless we get enough rain over the next several days, March will be the sixth consecutive month with below-average precipitation. February was D.C.'s driest February on record (dating back to 1872), with only 0.35" at Reagan National Airport. And since Jan. 1, both National and Dulles airports are running nearly 5" below normal.

The dryness has taken its toll according to this morning's weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which places the D.C. metro area in the moderate drought category.

How big of a dent will rain over the next several days make in our drought? Keep reading...

Just how dry have things been?

From the Drought Monitor discussion:

Short-term dryness continued to intensify across the middle Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic States, resulting in a broad expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). In the region of D1, Baltimore, Maryland, has endured its driest start to a calendar year during the nearly 140-year period of record. Through March 24, Baltimore's year-to-date precipitation stood at 3.79 inches, just 40% of normal.

Chris Laudicina, weather analyst at WUSA-9, was kind enough to send us some telling statistics he compiled (all for Reagan National, through yesterday):

Last day(s) with 0.5" or greater: January 6 (0.52") and January 7 (1.26")

Last day(s) with 0.25" or greater: March 1 (0.25") and March 2 (0.25"); these numbers represent the amount of liquid water produced by melting the 1" and 4.5" of snow that fell on those days, respectively.

Last day with 0.1" or greater: March 14 (0.1")

The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center predicts 1.5"-1.75" of rain (lavender stripe) for the D.C. area today through Tuesday morning.

Rain expected today through the weekend should help the situation, and could even get us within an inch of normal for March -- through yesterday, Reagan National had recorded 0.87" of liquid precipitation for the month, which averages a total of 3.6".

But to really get ourselves out from the growing grip of drought we'll need rainfall over the next few months that is more consistent than that of the past several.

How much rain do you think will fall today through the weekend? Have you seen any signs of drought in your neighborhood? Let us know with a comment below.

By Dan Stillman  | March 26, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Droughts, Local Climate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: On and Off Rainy Periods Into Sunday
Next: PM Update: More Much-Needed Rain


Up to 0.60" today plus at least half an inch more over the weekend.

No it won't end the drought, but as I indicated in my "conspiracy" post below, it could be alleviated by scheduling a few more VIP Singles dances at the Arlington/Fairfax Elks Lodge and by encouraging me to borrow more books from the library. That just might do the trick!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 26, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

While it has been dry around us, the fact that it's cooler has meant less evaporative drying. The soil still seems pretty moist, and plants are starting to bud.

Posted by: ah___ | March 26, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"February was the driest February on record (dating back to 1872) at Reagan National Airport with only 0.35"". Hmmm... How long have we been flying? Did we even need an airport in 1872?

Posted by: pjdunn1 | March 26, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

pjdunn1 -- Good point. The record covers the multiple locations that have served as the official D.C. observing station since 1872. Just revised the sentence to reflect this.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | March 26, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the rain that falls in the next few weeks will go directly into greening plants. We probably need normal+ for a while to get out of dry worries around here.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 26, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CapitalClmate | March 26, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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