Dry Conditions in Central and South Alabama in March 2004

Much of the Southeastern United States experienced record dryness for the month of March, 2004, according to the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. The affected areas included the southern two-thirds of Georgia, the southern half of Alabama, all of the Florida panhandle, and extreme southern Mississippi and extreme southeast Louisiana. These areas received less than 20% of their normal monthly rainfall for the month of March.

Within the Birmingham National Weather Service office's area of responsibility, which includes parts of Central and South Alabama, the most impacted counties were south of Interstate 85 and east of Interstate 65, where less than a half inch of rain fell -- less than one tenth the normal rainfall for March. Montgomery's rainfall for the month of March was 0.90 inches (14 percent of normal), and was the third driest March since 1887.

Farther north into central Alabama, along the Interstate 20/59 corridor, March 2004 rainfall was around 2 to 3 inches, or about 30 to 50% of normal. The only location that received close to normal rainfall in March was in the northwest, around Marion County.

The following images show estimated March 2004 rainfall (left), and percentage of normal (right). Click on the small images below to view full size images.

Estimated Rainfall in March 2004 - click for larger image Percentage of Normal Rainfall in March 2004 - click for large image
Estimated Rainfall in March 2004 Percentage of Normal Rainfall in March 2004

The following table highlights the rainfall that fell in selected cities in March, and how that compares to normal:

Location County March 2004 Rainfall Normal March Rainfall Percent of Normal
Troy Pike 0.44" 6.30" 7 %
Montgomery Montgomery 0.90" 6.39" 14 %
Calera/Shelby County AP Shelby 2.00" 5.68" 35 %
Anniston Calhoun 2.45" 5.98" 41 %
Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa 2.48" 5.94" 42 %
Birmingham Jefferson 3.06" 6.10" 50 %
NOTE: Rainfall amounts in the table above are preliminary and unofficial. For official data, please refer to the National Climatic Data Center.

Thus far, impacts from the dry month of March have been minimal, due to the rainfall received in the months of January and February, along with the rainfall received in 2003. If dry weather continues through the rest of the spring season, then long term drought conditions may develop.

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