Drought intensifies

first_imgBy David Emory StooksburyUniversity ofGeorgiaModerate agricultural drought now covers most of the state asmild agricultural drought spreads into all of north Georgia. Onlysoutheast Georgia now has near-normal soil moisture conditionsfor mid-to-late June.Mild to moderate agricultural drought generally exists north andwest of a line from Brooks to Coffee to Toombs to Lincolncounties.Moderate agricultural drought exists north and west of a linefrom Thomas to Crisp to Toombs to Washington to Elbert countiesand south of a line from Floyd to Lumpkin to Stephens counties.In the mild agricultural drought regions, soil moisture loss overthe past 30 days has been between 4 and 5 inches. In the moderateagricultural drought regions, 30-day soil moisture loss has beenbetween 5 and 7 inches.Drying outContinued high water use by plants, high evaporation rates andlittle rain have caused soils to dry very quickly across thestate. In regions not getting rain, soil moisture loss over thepast seven days has been between 1.3 and 1.5 inches.While tropical storm Alberto brought beneficial rains to extremesouth central, southeast and coastal Georgia, most of rest of thestate had little if any rainfall over the past week.During the past 30 days, the following University of Georgiaautomated weather stations have recorded less than 1 inch ofrain: Alpharetta, Bledsoe Experiment Farm, Byromville, Byron,Pine Mountain, Cordele, Covington, Dallas, Dawson, Duluth,Dunwoody, Eatonton, Fort Valley, Griffin, Jeffersonville, Sasserand Watkinsville.U.S. Geological Survey stream gauges are showing low flows acrossthe entire state. Many streams are near the 10th percentile forthe date.At the 10th percentile, we expect the stream flow to be greaterthan the current value in 90 years out of 100 for the currentdate.Groundwater, tooGroundwater levels are below normal statewide and are dropping.Water releases combined with below-normal inflows have led thestate’s major reservoirs to drop below normal summer pool overthe past several weeks. Farm ponds are showing the impacts of thedry, hot weather.The normal recharge season for streams, groundwater andreservoirs is over. Stream, groundwater and reservoir levels areexpected to keep dropping through summer into fall if the statecontinues to have dry or normal weather.The most likely source of widespread drought relief this summerand fall will come from the tropics. If Georgia doesn’t have anymore tropical activity this summer, then the summer will probablybe hot and dry.Comprehensive drought information, including current statewideoutdoor watering use schedules, may be found at www.georgiadrought.org.Real-time weather and climate conditions, including soil moisturebalance, may be found at www.georgiaweather.net.(David Emory Stooksbury is the state climatologist and aprofessor of engineering and atmospheric sciences in theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img