Summer Drought Hinges on Tuesday's Rain Prospects

Will there be a summer drought?

 Tropical Environment Offers Good Rain Risk

There has been quite a change in the “caliber” of our climate since the weekend. Gone are the hot and arid desert days with highs near a cozy 90. (Recall cozy is hot but comfy in my lexicon). Those great pool days also offered loads of sunshine for tanning and gentle breezes that made for a desert oasis.
In the desert air’s place, humid tropical air has invaded with our first risk of soaking showers in a week. The higher octane muggy air has been responsible for numerous showers today.
Just looking at the sky, the dark cumulonimbi clouds have appeared to want to unleash a tropical downpour all day long. But when push came to shove, most areas received only a few showers of spray that barely gave parched lawns and landscapes a mere syringing.
Here this Monday evening, the heavens have opened up for many areas especially along US 119 and I-77/79 in WV. Several 18 wheelers have spun out of control on our interstates, no doubt hydroplaining on greased and grimed surfaces after our long dry spell.
So why the “lack” of soaking rains earlier on Monday?
The answer is partly attributable to a possible summer drought. While April- May rains tried to make up for the warmth and dryness of March, the amount of rain that fell this spring has just not been enough to make up for the unprecedented warmth of late winter-early spring.
Matt Lewis is a farmer in the normally fertile Scioto bottomlands of Ohio. “Our fieldwork was done ahead of schedule. Now the corn and beans are in the fields and we need rain…make that desperately need rain”, Matt told me last week.
While Matt’s 800+ acres of farmlands did receive a few showers on Monday, his ground is still too dry for the early soy and corn to grow. That puts the pressure on as a cold front passes on Tuesday. If the front crosses the Scioto with more anemic showers, then the prospects of a summer drought will be heightened. If however a soaking downpour drops an inch of rain, it’s game on for a bumper crop.
Given the time of year and the front passing in the morning, the former result (scrawny showers ) is more likely in the Scioto Valley and the tobacco fields of Eastern Kentucky while the latter event (downpours) is more likely for Central WV where the rains will have more time to ramp up over the hay pastures and corn fields of Mason, Calhoun and Kanawha Counties.
To compound the drought scenario, it appears still another long dry spell will follow the front beginning on Wednesday. Good news for dad for Father's Day weekend, but bad news for your browning lawn and landscape.
One final note, in March I began hawking a possible summer drought, only to back away when the rains arrived in April. But now with weekend rains having saturated the Gulf Coast states, I am struggling with the implications that a wet ground to our south will have on our summer weather.
My first sentiment is a wet ground down south will produce lots of summer storms over the damp soil of Dixie which would be a contra-indicator for wet weather here. In other words OUR PARCHED LANDSCAPE would act to offset the southern wetness and feed into the drought notion.
Still, if those southern showers are pushed northward into Appalachia, then several wet and humid weekends could turn the dusty trails on the county fair circuit into quagmires!
So I will stick with my May forecast that we will tinker on the verge of drought all summer, only to have timely showers interrupt that cycle several times, hence salvaging a decent crop.
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