The post below addresses our potential for some much-needed rainfall across central NC later today, tonight and Tuesday, this one is just a quick review of why that will be a very good thing if it pans out. A review of this morning's daily climate report for RDU indicates our rainfall deficit for the calendar year 2006 (starting from zero on January 1st) has reached 6.2 inches, meaning we've gotten about 39% of our normal rainfall for this far into the year. We've gotten into a situation where grass, leaves and brush have been very dried out by low relative humidities (15-25% in the afternoons) recently, leaving us with several days of elevated outdoor fire danger, not to mention a couple of "Red Flag" days last week where those conditions were even further exacerbated by temperatures above 60 degrees and winds frequently gusting above 25 mph. A decent rain would work wonders for this problem, at least in the near term. To check the latest fire danger estimate from the U.S. Forest Service (which has decreased markedly for today with the prospect of increasing humidity and eventually rain) just go here.
Since the January 1st reset date represents kind of an arbitrary point of reference for a rainfall deficit, it's also useful to consider where our rainfall stands across fixed, sliding time windows. You can find links to sources for that information on our WRAL Water Watch page. At this time, for example, we have deficits of about 2.9 inches over the past 30 days, 6.5 inches over the past 90 days, and 7.3 inches over the past year.