Posted: 7:08 am Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
By Kirk Mellish
Nearly 49% of the U.S. population is now under in a drought!
In the Georgia mountains the rainfall deficit is over 20 inches. The drought in the Southeastern U.S. is in its ninth month impacting almost 24 million people. OVER 59% of Georgia is now under extreme or worse drought conditions. Less than 16% of the state is not abnormally dry.
Almost 9 million Georgia residents are now being impacted by drought. In far north Georgia many areas have only had half or less of their normal rainfall over the past 90+ days some having their driest 3-month period on record.
DRY SPELL RECORD BOOK for Atlanta:
We are currently tied for 2nd longest dry spell officially at Hartsfield.
From the South Carolina State Climatologist, streamflows and lake levels continue to decline in the Upstate. Several stations have had the driest 90-day period (8/15-2016-11/14/2016) on record. The USDA reports that cattle producers have been selling off cows and began feeding hay mid-summer in the Upstate, and producers are reporting that they are prevented from planting winter forage due to lack of rain.
In a November 10 announcement, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) in response to the drought and wildfire impacts, with a Level 3 – State of Emergency in place for Tennessee. The announcement included a statement that “Approximately 302 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from moderate to exceptional. At least three counties have requested water for residents whose wells have run completely dry of water.”
In western North Carolina, reports from the public indicate that cattle producers in Watauga and Avery Counties have been feeding their winter stores of hay for over a month. Streams, creeks, and branches have dried up, producers are having major issues with watering livestock, peoples’ wells have dried up, and local towns are implementing Stage 2 water restrictions.
According to November 13 USDA reports, topsoil moisture was short to very short across 92% of Alabama, 91% of Mississippi, 90% of Georgia, 82% of Tennessee, 79% of Louisiana, 76% of Kentucky, 60% of Arkansas, 55% of Florida, 39% of South Carolina, and 35% of North Carolina, and subsoil moisture was short or very short in 90% of Alabama and Mississippi, 85% of Georgia, 81% of Tennessee, 75% of Louisiana, 71% of Kentucky, 61% of Arkansas, and 45% of Florida.
Most of Georgia has received LESS than 50% of normal rainfall past 3 months:
Red dots are active fires, yellow dots are past brush/wild fires since January 1st:
National forest fires and smoke plume paths:
Many counties still have fire burning bans. Brush and small forest fires are becoming common.
Many locations are on pace for the driest Fall on record (1):
Soils continue to dry out, streams and creeks and lake levels continue to drop in North and Central Georgia. Hardest hit is the Northern third of the state where ponds are dry, natural springs are dry, and wells are running dry and agriculture is being hurt.
Over 15 inches of rain is needed to wipe out the drought in parts of Metro Atlanta.Eight million Georgians now live under a drought classification.
Drought is widespread across the Southeastern United States as well as out West and in the Northeast states.
Agriculture as well as trees and other plants are suffering from the lack of water, without irrigation they are dying.
What would normally be lush green pastures are reduced to stubble. Cows don’t have enough to eat with ranchers having trouble importing expensive hay for feed and having to sell off parts of the herd prematurely to make sure they have enough feed to get through winter.
Many huge cattle drinking ponds have been bone dry for the last three months. Down the road this could increase the price of beef at the grocery store with smaller herds to go to slaughter.
Production of peanuts and cotton are also expected to be reduced by the drought.
The flow on the Chattahoochee river is low, both Lake Lanier and Allatoona are down multiple feet.
Unfortunately, the long-term trends through January do not look favorable for any big turn around anytime soon. The NOAA/NWS winter outlook: