New Drought Monitor continues showing increasing concerns for lack of moisture in Central, SWVA


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – On Thursday, a new Drought Monitor was released which continues to show a need for rain in our entire region.

The updated Drought Monitor shows an expansion from the Abnormally Dry category to the Moderate Category in the Alleghany Highlands.

No other changes were noted in the update.

So, what does this mean?

Simply put, it highlights the increasing need for more rain in the area. The dry soils continue to be conducive for the quick spread of brush and wildfires.

This is why some localities have issued burn bans in the area. This includes the counties of Amherst, Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Halifax, Henry and Pittsylvania as well as the City of Danville.

Burning is against the law in these areas. Should you be caught burning, you could be fined. If you burn and your fire gets out of control, you could be charged the cost of fighting the fire.

Even if your area is not included in an active burn ban, it’s still wise to put off any outdoor burning until conditions improve. This includes personal fireworks.

Many people enjoy using sparklers and other traditional fireworks during the New Year’s holiday. That, too, should be halted as one spark can quickly ignite a fire that could easily get out of control, even if the surface of the ground is wet from recent rain.

Since many of us did receive rain this past week, it wasn’t enough for that moisture to saturate the ground enough to seep deep into the ground. So, just below the surface, soils are still extremely dry.

Here are some other results from the lack of significant rainfall in the area:

To give you an idea about how far below normal we are with precipitation, look at the calendar below. It shows that, so far this month, we have only had six days with measurable rainfall. The highest total took place on Dec. 10 where we had just shy of one-third of an inch of rain.

So far this month, we’re down nearly two-and-a-quarter inches of rain versus where we should be. Since Nov. 1, we’re down nearly four-and-a-half inches. The National Weather Service says it would take anywhere from five to 10 inches of rain in a month to end the current drought.

Looking at the past year, Southside really has seen a significant lack of rainfall. This plot shows estimates on the lack of rainfall seen, not only in Southside, but across our entire area.

These plots show radar estimates regarding how large of a deficit that rainfall rates have been this year.

The rain that we saw this week was largely not accounted for in this week’s Drought Monitor. That will be recorded in next week’s release which runs from Dec. 29 through Jan. 4.

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