It's Been Dry Recently...But Are We Headed for Drought?

Many areas in Central Alabama have experienced some rather warm, dry conditions during the past couple of weeks. But how does this year compare to some of our drier periods in the past?

Let's take a look at some data for the Birmingham area.  To date, there have been 27.67 inches of rain at the Birmingham Airport, which is 2.26 inches below normal for the year. Now, let's compare this to some previous drought  periods shown in the tables below.

Some Historical Birmingham Droughts

 Calendar year droughts since 1900 (Yearly Normal = 53.72")
 28.86 inches (2007)
 34.32 inches (1904)
 36.14 inches (1931)
 36.94 inches (1943)
 37.84 inches (1908)

 12 month droughts since 1900
 Jan 2007 through Dec 2007 (28.86”)
 Dec 1930 through Nov 1931 (30.29”)
 Sep 1985 through Aug 1986 (31.84”)
 Jan 1904 through Dec 1904 (34.32”)
 Feb 1908 through Jan 1909 (36.54”)
 Jan 1943 through Dec 1943 (36.94”)
 Feb 1954 through Jan 1955 (38.98”)
 Dec 1923 through Nov 1924 (41.43”)

As you can see from the tables above, we have had several periods in which we have received much less rainfall than the pace we are on for this year. Even though we are running a little below normal currently, we are well ahead of the pace we had during some of our more severe droughts.

And what is the outlook for the remainder of this year.  The current outlook for the remainder of this summer is for above normal temperatures and near to below normal rainfall. However, as we head into fall and the early winter season, we are expected to transition to a pattern of above normal temperatures and above normal rainfall.  And with an El Nino event expected to develop later this year, near to above normal rainfall is likely to occur across Central Alabama as we continue through the upcoming winter.


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