According the most recent Southern Plains Drought Status Update, extreme drought continues to expand over Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Drought is likely to worsen in the coming weeks and months.Continue Reading
NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and its partners issue Drought Status Updates as conditions evolve. The December 13 update for the Southeast notes the following key points. You can view the full update here.
- Despite significant rainfall over the summer, precipitation this fall was much below normal for much of the region. This continued lack of precipitation is leading to soil moisture deficits and low streamflows, even as we enter the climatological winter.
- Based on the U.S. Drought Monitor released on December 9th, drought remains and currently covers 26% of the region, with 13% in severe drought (D2). These drought areas are currently in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, with the Carolinas most impacted. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) cover 41% of the region, and are found in the above states as well as Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
- Current impacts include observed low streamflow and reduced soil moisture. Fortunately, drought impacts are less pronounced this time of year because water demand is lower this time of year for vegetation use, irrigation of agriculture and lawns, and other uses. Also, climatologically, the October/November time period is one of the drier times of the year across most of the region.
- One concern is the potential for moisture deficits across portions of the region heading into the next growing season and the cold season recharge for reservoirs.
- Except for northern portions of Alabama, no appreciable rainfall is expected over the next week. Week 2 will more likely than not see above-average rainfall over most of the region, except for Florida and southeast Georgia, where rainfall should remain sparse.
- The winter outlook (December 2021–February 2022) shows a higher chance for below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures across much of the Southeast region, which is typical of the existing La Niña pattern.
- Wildfire threats have increased due to low humidity and dry fuel loads, and have led to a burn ban in North Carolina. There are reports that winter wheat is being irrigated in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, which is highly unusual. Some water systems are considering or implementing conservation practices. South Carolina has declared ‘incipient’ drought conditions in 34 counties, and North Carolina issued a Drought Advisory.
The National Weather Service office in Tampa, Florida has recently developed a series of short presentations that explore specific Florida weather topics. For fire and land managers in Florida, these “Weather Workouts” cover:
Sea Breeze Thunderstorms
Hurricane Climatology and Flooding
Storm Surge and River Forecasting
NWS Online Tools and Services
Nws Damage Surveys and Forecast Models
El Nino, La Nina, Arctic Oscillation, and Super Fog
These short presentations may be useful additions to your next team meeting or RT-130 annual fireline refresher.
The Southeast Climate monthly webinar series is held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10:00 am ET. This series is hosted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the NOAA National Weather Service. These webinars will provide the region with timely information on current and developing climate conditions such as drought, floods and tropical storms, as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers may also discuss the impacts of these conditions on topics such as agriculture production, water resources, wildfires and ecosystems.Continue Reading
The Southern Fire Exchange, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, North Carolina State University, and the Southern Regional Extension Forestry collaboratively produced a new full-color 50 page guidebook for smoke management in the South. Intended for private landowners, the 2020 Smoke Management Guidebook for Prescribed Burning in the Southern Region will also be useful for students, extension agents, NRCS agents, prescribed burn associations, and prescribed burners looking to increase their smoke management knowledge. At this point, the guidebook is only available in digital (pdf) format.Continue Reading