Drought worsens in Virginia at end of year

Posted at 9:33 AM, Dec 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-06 09:33:29-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Rain chances may have verified in our forecast of late, but the amounts of rain accumulated are pitiful (as expected, sadly). Recent storm systems have produced as little as a Trace of measurable rainfall. Yesterday’s cold front sparked a mere 0.02″ at Richmond International Airport. Without late Fall and early December rains, our drought prospects look bleak.


In today’s Drought Monitor update, conditions deteriorated a little bit more over the past week. Both the Abnormally Dry and Moderate Drought areas expanded in the Commonwealth. Compare where we were three months ago with only 13.55 percent of the state in D1, or even to the beginning of the year when we had barely a whisper of Abnormally Dry conditions in Virginia at just 1.56% and no D1.


However, the newest seasonal Drought Outlook map was issued today, as well, and points to improvement through Winter for Virginia. Why? The climate forecasters at NOAA say, “Remaining areas of drought east of the Mississippi River are expected to see at least some improvement in conditions due to the occasional passage of storm systems.”


To give you perspective, here’s the National Drought Monitor.


But those occasional passages of storm systems lately haven’t been helpful in Virginia. I do see a shift in storm origin and track, though, in the days leading up to Christmas. It looks like some storm systems may originate in the Southern Plains and along the Gulf Coast states, which would favor better rain chances in Virginia.

For you Winter Weather buffs, you know one short-term pattern I keep a close eye on is the North Atlantic Oscillation. Here’s the NAO forecast, showing it “going negative” into the middle of December. This is a cycle that can predict whether our temperatures here in thee Mid-Atlantic will turn colder or remain milder. You can see our recent unseasonably mild weather in early December was linked to a shift to NAO positive. The red lines are the forecasts indicating a deep plunge negative, even stronger than the negative NAO in mid and late October.



Couple that with more southerly storm tracks, and we might be talking about winter weather set-ups in Virginia this month. We at the CBS 6 Storm Team are closely watching a potential nor’easter around December 18 impacting the Mid-Atlantic. It’s still too far off to call, but we are monitoring the trends!

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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