Drought hits area

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Weather forecasters are predicting drier conditions coming as the drought continues to affect the area and state.

Tim Cermak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, said the percentage chance of rain in the near future isn’t looking good.

“The models are really keeping us under this high pressure to stay dry,” Cermak said. “Rain may be coming (this weekend). Even right now, that’s not looking like the best chance.”

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Cermak said the last measurable recording of precipitation at the Mobile Airport last occurred on Sept. 26.

According to the NWS, October became the most current month in the list of driest Octobers on record for Mobile and Evergreen.

For Mobile, the last time no rainfall was recorded for the month during the period of record (POR) from 1871 to present was way back in October 1874.

Most of the state is under a fire alert because of the dry conditions. In fact, the drought is impacting Alabama Power lake levels, resulting in reservoirs below typical elevations this time of year. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Escambia County is under a moderate drought.

In Atmore, the city was placed under a burn ban recently. The ban hasn’t been lifted.

At present, the Conecuh River in Brewton is at 7.96 feet and steady, Escambia County Emergency Management Agency Director David Adams said.

Adams said the best solution to get out of the drought is rain.

“The best we could hope for will be several inches of rain falling over several days to allow it to soak in and not run off,” he said. “A heavy rain with the current dry conditions could cause washing issues with roads and drainage systems. It can also cause topsoil to wash from the fields causing problems for farmers.”

When asked what it’s going to take for rain to fall in the area, Cermak said first there needs to be moisture in the air.

“Right now, we’re in a pattern in that it isn’t conducive for the area,” he said. “We’ve had a few months for the moisture to move through and it’s kept cool.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any moisture in the air and it’s going to stay dry,” he said. “We really need to get some on-shore flow.”

According to NOAA, the weather forecast calls for high temperatures in the low 80s from today to Friday, and a high of 78 and 79 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

While warm and cold air masses clash to form precipitation, there still needs to be moisture in the air, Cermak said.

“We’re still getting fronts, but we don’t have moisture in the air,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some moisture return in the next couple of weeks.”

As to how much rain has fallen right now year to date, Cermak said the area is 3 inches below normal for rainfall.

“The longer we go without rain, the bigger that gap becomes,” he said. “It would take a series of events to chisel away at that gap as it grows and grows.”