First Alert: Slim rain chances raise early drought concerns

Extreme heat is on the way with no widespread rain in sight

First Alert: Slim rain chances raise early drought concerns
An area of growing abnormally dry conditions can be found in and around Fredericksburg, VA. (Source: US Drought Monitor & NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Although some may be thankful for the dry summer days, most of Central Virginia could use the rain. For this past week, the United States Drought Monitor has shown an area of “abnormally dry” conditions in and around the city of Fredericksburg, VA.

As of the latest weekly update, the area seeing abnormally dry conditions has been extended as far south as Louisa and as far north as Alexandria. With this type of drought, we aren’t so much looking at a depletion of natural water sources as we are a simple dry spell that can be fixed by widespread rainfall.

An area of growing abnormally dry conditions can be found in and around Fredericksburg, VA.
An area of growing abnormally dry conditions can be found in and around Fredericksburg, VA. (Source: US Drought Monitor & NBC12)

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, during a D0 drought, a few things are expected to be reported in impacted areas:

  • Drought watches are issued
  • Voluntary water conservation is requested
  • Grass growth slows; lawns begin to go brown
  • River flows begin to drop

Other areas outside of the designated drought boundary are getting dry and will likely be added into the drought map by next Thursday’s update. For example, Scott Tucker (an NBC12 viewer) was able to send us these photos of abnormally dry conditions in Victoria, VA just southwest of Richmond. In the first picture, you can see the grass is slightly brown/yellow from a lack of water & the water level is receding in the pond.

Scott notes that "We haven't had any appreciable rain in two weeks. If you zoom in you can see how the water line in the pond is getting lower every day. The grass is going dormant, but it does that every summer. As long as it's left alone it will be fine after we get some good rains."
Scott notes that "We haven't had any appreciable rain in two weeks. If you zoom in you can see how the water line in the pond is getting lower every day. The grass is going dormant, but it does that every summer. As long as it's left alone it will be fine after we get some good rains." (Source: Scott Tucker)
Earlier this summer, the grass was green and water levels were normal! With no appreciable rain, things are starting to dry out.
Earlier this summer, the grass was green and water levels were normal! With no appreciable rain, things are starting to dry out. (Source: Scott Tucker)

The map below shows that nearly the entire eastern half of Virginia has only received about 5% to 20% of its normal rainfall totals for this time of year. This is a significant increase from last week where only minor areas were seeing a lack of normal rainfall.

Eastern Virginia hasn't seen much rainfall for the month of July.
Eastern Virginia hasn't seen much rainfall for the month of July. (Source: NOAA & NWS)

Thankfully, the dryness has been short-lived. In June; however, Central VA saw 5.25″ of rain (according to the NWS in Wakefield) which left us with a one-inch surplus.

Areas that may have seen more rainfall in the month of June are now below average as we head into mid-July
Areas that may have seen more rainfall in the month of June are now below average as we head into mid-July (Source: NWS, NOAA)

As of now, area river levels are fine and are not in the “critical” stage; however, as we look at the upcoming weather pattern, it’s looking like nothing more than a few pop-up showers or storms.

With drought conditions already present in parts of Virginia, the NBC 12 Weather Team will be keeping an eye out for the next big rainmaker to try and alleviate some of those problems.

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