The Drought: Another Perspective

Another way to quantify the severity of the drought.

Posted Updated
Rainfall (YTD as percentage of YTD normal)
Nate Johnson

Over the last few weeks, we've had plenty of opportunities to wax poetic on the state of the drought.  We've looked at:

  • an overall classification ("severe", "exceptional", etc.)
  • year-to-date rainfall deficits
  • number of days of water available from area lakes

...and so on.  Last night at 6pm, Greg looked at another way of measuring just how bad off some parts of North Carolina are.  Instead of looking at a rainfall deficit, we looked at this year's rainfall as a percentage of normal rainfall.  How much of our normal rainfall this year have we gotten so far?

The numbers are staggering.   

For example, we all know how severe the drought is in the Triangle.  Would you believe that -- in terms of this year's rainfall, anyway -- this area is doing better than most of the state? 

As of Monday night -- including this weekend's very beneficial rains -- Raleigh/Durham International Airport has gotten only 78% of its normal rainfall through Monday.  Compare that to Fayetteville's 59%, Wilmington's 58%, or Elizabeth City's 55%. 

In other words, Elizabeth City, Wilmington, and Fayetteville have gotten just barely more than half of the rain that they're supposed to have gotten so far this year.  RDU would very likely be in that boat, had it not been for about half a dozen days over the last year where we lucked out with heavy rainfall, including two events in October.

Unfortunately, serious drought relief isn't likely in the next few months.  The La Niña event -- cooler than normal waters in the equatorial Pacific near South America -- and other factors all suggest a drier-than-normal winter for us, as reflected in the Climate Prediction Center's official climate outlook for December, January, and February.



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