Well below normal yearly rainfall has resulted in expanding and worsening drought conditions across parts of the state.
According to the latest Drought Monitor report, released on June 15th, 23 percent of the state including much of Western Mississippi were experiencing abnormally dry conditions with over 3 percent of this area indicated as experiencing moderate drought conditions. The abnormally dry coverage area over Western Mississippi is an indication that the area is going into a drought with short-term dryness that could slow planting, growth of crops or pastures. The moderate drought coverage area that is developing indicates some damage to crops and pastures with streams, reservoirs, or wells running low and some water shortages developing or imminent.
Rainfall across Western Mississippi is ranging from 10 to 18 inches below normal since the beginning of the year with much of the deficits coming since mid April, which is normally one of the wettest months of the year but was unusually dry across much of the state.
ewly budding and growing vegetation, which extracted moisture from the soils combined with the below normal rainfall and persistent hot conditions to also contribute to the worsen of the abnormally dry conditions. Soil moisture was running some 2 to 5 inches below normal across this area.
So far this month, rainfall has ranged from only 5 to 25 percent of normal in parts of the Delta with precipitation, 25 to 50 percent of normal over the remainder of Western Mississippi.
In Vicksburg, one of the areas indicated in moderate drought conditions, is 17 inches below normal for the year with only 14.78 inches of rainfall oppose to the normal of 31.88 inches by June 19th. In Greenville, also indicated as one of the driest locations in Western Mississippi, was running 14.68 inches below normal with only 14.79 inches of rainfall oppose to the normal of 29.47 inches by June 19th.
Abnormally dry conditions are beginning to expand into Central Mississippi, where the capital city of Jackson is nearly 9 inches below normal for the year with 20.29 inches of rainfall oppose to the normal of 29.11 by June 19th.
The outlook does not look any better.
According to the National Weather Service, a high pressure ridge that has kept much of the region mainly dry and hot is expected to remain dominate for the next week to 10 days with only isolated to scattered mainly afternoon and evening thunderstorms. These will only bring highly localized relief from the current dry conditions.
The continued dry conditions will have major implications as the summer progresses.
If no widespread rain relief occurs, a long and very hot summer with 100 degree temperatures will become more likely. In June of 2009, a similar weather situation setup across Central and Southern Mississippi with well below normal rainfall with a hot dome of high pressure in place. As a result, by the end of June and beginning of July 2009, high temperatures easily soared near to over 100 degrees for several days, breaking numerous records, making it one of the driest and one of the hottest months of June on record for many locations including Jackson. (Note: The drier the soil conditions, the hotter temperatures can get, similar to a desert oppose to a wet and moist ground, in which some of the sun’s energy is lost to evaporating the moisture, limiting temperatures from reaching their max potential)