The latest U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that drought conditions persist across Central Alabama. Extreme drought is now indicated across southern sections of Shelby County and also in an area to the right of a line from just south of Ashland to Still Waters Resort to near Equality to Kellyton to just south of Ashland. Surrounding these areas, moderate to severe drought is indicated over most of the area to the left of a line from near Piedmont to near Highland Lake to Woodstock to Suttle to Crumptonia. Elsewhere abnormally dry to near-normal conditions are found over the remaining areas of Central Alabama.
Some much-welcomed rainfall occurred over the past weekend into the early part of this week but it was not enough to provide any real improvement to the drought conditions over the area. Most of the heavier rainfall occurred over the northern half of Central Alabama where most totals were around an inch or less, although localized areas received heavier amounts of two inches or more. In contrast, very little rainfall fell in the southern sections, with some locations not receiving any measurable rainfall. Temperatures did abate some from the much above normal readings we had been observing, and have fallen back to more normal levels for this time of the year. Additional beneficial rainfall will need to occur for Central Alabama to see a significant improvement to the drought conditions plaguing the area.
Some precipitation amounts (inches) for Central Alabama from January 1st through October 9th…
Birmingham … 38.21
Montgomery … 34.39
Anniston ….. 39.89
Tuscaloosa … 41.20
Calera ……. 33.99
Troy ……… 31.05
Normal precipitation expected (inches) and departure from normal (inches) January 1st through October 9th…
Birmingham … 42.00 … -3.79
Montgomery … 41.55 … -7.16
Anniston ….. 38.73 … +1.16
Tuscaloosa … 40.43 … +0.77
Calera ……. 42.84 … -8.85
Troy ……… 42.80 … -11.75
Information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other sources indicate that significant impacts from the drought are still being felt by crops and cattle. Pastures, soybeans, grasses, and hayfields are suffering and some planting of crops has been delayed. Many livestock is being fed hay and supplements due to the lack of forage. Irrigation is being used in some areas to help alleviate the impacts of the ongoing drought. Despite the very dry conditions, a majority of crops are still reported to be in fair to good condition, with the most severe impacts at this time still affecting pastures and ranges with over half of those reported to be in poor to very poor condition.
Fire Danger Impacts
The fire danger risk is high across all of Central Alabama with Keetch-Byram Drought Indices (KBDI) currently from 500 to over 700 across most of the area. Values above 500 indicate a severe fire danger. The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) continues the fire alert across Central Alabama. Permits for outdoor burning will be restricted and issued on an individual basis. Over the last thirty days, the AFC has responded to over 500 wildfires that have burnt over six thousand acres.
Precipitation And Temperature Outlook
Mostly dry conditions are expected to continue across Central Alabama today although some light rainfall is possible in the western sections. A cold front approaching the area on Friday will bring chances for some additional mostly light rainfall Friday afternoon into early Saturday morning. A lull in rain chances is expected on Saturday but increasing moisture combined with periodic upper-level weather impulses will bring a return of rain chances by Sunday into the first half of next week. Cumulative rainfall amounts through next Wednesday are expected to range between one and two inches over the northwestern two-thirds of Central Alabama… with locally higher amounts. Southeastern sections of the area are forecast to average around an inch or less.
The two-week outlook… from October 15th through October 23rd… calls for above-normal temperatures and above normal rainfall.
The longer-range outlook for the remainder of October through December calls for above-normal temperatures and equal chances of below-normal, normal or above-normal precipitation across Central Alabama.
The latest seasonal drought outlook through December indicates that drought conditions are expected to persist and potentially further expand in scope across much of Eastern Alabama and possibly into other portions of Central Alabama.