Archived Story

Alabama escapes D4 drought

Published 12:32pm Friday, January 4, 2013

The sun has yet to make much of an appearance in 2013 – overcast and drizzly days have been par for the course.

The return of wetter weather may be bad for picnics, but it has been enough so far to cause Tallapoosa County’s drought status to be downgraded from exceptional (D4) to extreme (D3-D4).

This time last week, 3.68 percent of the state was still classified as D4 – the majority of that percentage was comprised of Tallapoosa County.  Over the past seven days, however, most parts of the state received an inch or more of rain, and meteorologist are predicating this trend will continue.

As of Tuesday, no area of the state was classified as D4.

“It looks like the pattern has opened up from the October and November dry spell,” said Jessica Talley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. “We can sort of expect it to continue for the next week or two with some sort of precipitation every couple of days.”

Forecast models are predicting a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday, and Talley said Wednesday and Thursday of next week could also bring more rain. It is too far out to predict how severe the storms may be, but early forecasts are predicting thunder may accompany Wednesday’s storms.

“The extended outlook from the climate prediction center shows us having above normal precipitation (this winter),” Talley said. “If we continue to get these wetting rainfalls – half to an inch every week – it will definitely help the drought conditions.”

Despite early forecasts of an El Nino weather pattern this year, Talley said meteorologists aren’t expecting the current ENSO neutral phase to end. ENSO netural conditions mean temperatures in the tropics are indicative of neither a El Nino nor La Nina event.

“(Meteorologists) are thinking that we will continue to have ENSO neutral conditions until spring,” Talley said.

Precipitation aside, temperatures are expected to vary slightly but a hard freeze is not expected.

“It looks like for the next 5 days or so, it will stay around or below freezing,” Talley said. “We can expect that for the next several days, then another system will be coming through that will cause the area to warm up then cool back down (after it moves through).”

Snow is still unlikely for the foreseeable future.

“If we can get these cooler temperatures and moisture occurring at the same time, we could see the snow chances increase,” Talley said. “Right now, however, it is warming up a little too much.”

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