Reports say drought returning to county, state

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 11/29/17

Drought is returning to Walker County, as well as much of the western border areas of the Alabama, and one weather official said the state’s rainfall totals could worsen this winter under La Niña conditions.

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Reports say drought returning to county, state

Posted

Drought is returning to Walker County, as well as much of the western border areas of the Alabama, and one weather official said the state’s rainfall totals could worsen this winter under La Niña conditions.

According to maps released last week by the U.S. Drought Monitor, all but the northwestern corner of Walker County has now been listed in the lowest level of drought — abnormally dry. Portions of Marion, Fayette, Lamar, Cullman, Blount, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties are also at that level.

Moreover, the drought extends to the state border with Mississippi and goes as far as Choctaw and Clarke counties. A number of areas are also falling in the second-lowest level of drought, moderate drought, including all of Pickens and Sumter counties, as portions of Lamar, Fayette, Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Greene, Hale and Choctaw counties.

The southeastern section of the state, affecting five counties, also shows abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. Five counties on the north border of the state are also showing abnormally dry conditions.

In all, about 9 percent of the state was in moderate drought on Nov. 21, while about 26 percent of the state was showing either abnormal or moderate conditions, affecting nearly 200,000 people in the state.

The conditions are concerning when one recalls an epic drought that lasted for months in the state, which only became drought free in June. In November 2016, most of Alabama was in at least extreme drought conditions, which is the second worst stage.

At the start of the calendar year 2017, almost 90 percent of the state was in at least severe drought, half of it had reached at least extreme drought, and 19 percent had been in the worst stage, exceptional drought.

Roger McNeil, a hydrologist with the Birmingham National Weather Service in Calera, said Tuesday that while rainfall totals for the year in the state are still above normal, conditions may be coming that could pull those totals into the negative over time. Moderate drought conditions may soon move eastward, going deeper into Fayette and Tuscaloosa counties.

As for the long-range forecast, he said La Niña conditions are expected to develop for the state, which could create warmer and dryer conditions for Alabama for December through February.

“We’ll just have to wait as we go through the winter season and see how conditions progress,” he said.

Data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows streamflow in rivers and streams belong normal west of a line from Sulligent to central Jefferson County and down to Selma, although it is normal levels north and east of that line, McNeil said.

McNeil said not much rainfall is expected to help with the situation this week in the area.