From Floods to Dust - The Growing Drought In the South

Did You Know?
Historic flooding in Louisiana, the first land-falling hurricane in Florida in over a decade (Hurricane Hermine), and powerful Hurricane Matthew - Yea, it's been an active year in the Southeast and Deep South. After all of this you'd think they'd want a break from the rain, but there's actually a drought expanding across the Southeast. In fact, hardly a drop of rain has been seen in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas since Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall in coastal South Carolina early in October. A lack of rainfall combined with above normal temperatures over the past month have contributed to the growing drought across the region.


Had it not been for Hurricane Matthew, the entire states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia would likely be in a drought or at least abnormally dry conditions. But if we look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map, you can clearly see where Matthew dumped significant rainfall (compare above map to below map) as those are the only areas of these states that are not abnormally dry.


Areas in extreme drought across parts of northern Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee saw a very dry and hot summer which has contributed to the extreme conditions there. This has caused problems for farmers in the region as fields of normally lush grass as turned to dust and ponds dry up leaving little grazing and water supply for livestock. Additionally, there have been reports of damage to crops from insects. While harvesting soybeans, some farmers are finding that the pods are shattering once they hit the combine. Wild fires are also a threat in this region as parched vegetation needs just a small spark to ignite.

Portions of eastern North Carolina and northern south Carolina have seen some showers today, ending the nearly month-long streak of rain-free days. Areas that really need the rain, farther west towards the interior Southeast, will continue to wait for anything significant (Huntsville, AL received a whole 0.01'' of rain late last night) other areas saw more but the rain was very patchy. The next chance of rain will be the early and mid-part of the upcoming work week. However the extent of the precipitation may not be confined to the Deep South and Gulf Coast, though some of these areas could see over an inch of rain.