Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Huntsville, AL

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000
AXUS74 KHUN 170004
DGTHUN
ALC033-043-049-059-071-077-079-083-089-095-103-TNC051-103-190015-

Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Huntsville AL
704 PM CDT Thu Mar 16 2017

...Slight improvement in drought conditions in parts of northeastern
Alabama over the last week, but longer term drought conditions
remain...

Synopsis...
According to the Drought Monitor valid Tuesday, March 14, 2017,
Severe Drought (D2) conditions remain across southern portions of
DeKalb and Marshall Counties and southern and central Cullman
County. The severe drought conditions in parts of northern and
eastern DeKalb County have been changed to moderate drought (D1).
Locations analyzed in severe drought can be found generally along and
south of a line from Crossville, to Albertville and Cullman. A small
area of severe drought also remains in northwestern Alabama from
western Franklin County into northern Lawrence County. This also
includes a small portion of southeastern Colbert County. Moderate
Drought conditions are still occurring across the remainder of
northern Alabama.

In southern middle Tennessee, moderate drought conditions are still
occurring in southeastern portions of Franklin County and a very
small area of southern Lincoln County. Otherwise, Moore County and
the remainders of Franklin and Lincoln Counties are just considered
Abnormally Dry (D0).

Note: Precipitation and other conditions (streamflows, soil
moisture,etc.) that determine drought designations each week for the
U.S. Drought Monitor are based on data that end at 6AM CST each
Tuesday. So, any precipitation that falls after the 6AM cutoff is not
factored into designations for that week, but will of course be
factored into designations for the following weekly issuance. Also,
it`s important to remember that the designation of drought categories
is a multi-faceted process that includes numerous data from a
variety of physical systems on different space and time scales, which
include precipitation, soil moisture, streamflows, groundwater, and
various drought indices, just to name a few.

Summary of Impacts...
State and local declarations: The Alabama Department of Economic and
Community Affairs (ADECA) Office of Water Resources placed all of
the counties in the Huntsville CWA, with the exception of Cullman
County, in a Drought Advisory per the latest update on February 9th.
Cullman County is in a Drought Watch.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) had been in a State
of Emergency due to the dry conditions and wildfires that had taken
place, especially in southeastern parts of the state late last year.
However, the State of Emergency due to the drought and wildfires was
lifted earlier this year.

Agricultural Impacts...
Since the primary growing season has not begun yet in the region,
Crop and Progress Condition Reports are not currently being issued
from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. These
reports are expected to resume in April. Nevertheless, D3 and D4
drought conditions during the growing season last year resulted in
Disaster Declarations for all of the counties in the Huntsville CWA
as Primary Natural Disaster Areas due to damages/losses caused by
the recent drought. This includes the counties of Colbert, Cullman,
Dekalb, Franklin (AL), Franklin (TN), Jackson, Lauderdale, Lincoln,
Madison, Marshall, Moore, Morgan, Lawrence, and Limestone.

Fire Danger Impacts...
Currently, there are no burn restrictions from the Alabama Forestry
Commission (AFC). Nevertheless, the AFC advises anyone conducting
outdoor burning to follow safety precautions. Any fire more than a
quarter acre in size or within 25 feet of a forested area requires a
permit from the AFC.

The State of Tennessee rescinded their burn ban on December 19,
2016. There are no Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Bans currently
in effect in the state. However, a Debris Burning Permit from the
Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is required
through May 15, 2017 to burn leaf and brush piles for residents in
Franklin, Lincoln, and Moore Counties. Citizens may obtain Burn
Permits by going to www.burnsafetn.org.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) available from the U.S. Forest
Service Wildland Fire Assessment System shows that values are below
200 across the entire region.

Other Impacts...
During the height of the drought last Fall, local news reported that
many home foundation repair businesses in Northern Alabama were busy
because dry conditions had caused large cracks and other damage to
home foundations. Also, county officials especially in northwestern
Alabama reported that large numbers of cracks had appeared on
roadways due to the drought. This included portions of the Natchez
Trace Parkway in northwestern Alabama in adjacent areas. Recently,
on January 24, 2017, the County Engineer of Colbert County reported
that drought damage to roads was continuing and that a crack sealing
machine would be required to repair the cracks.

Hay and forage were reported to be in short supply across parts of
the state, as drought conditions led many farmers to postpone or
even skip the planting of winter grazing. Alabama farmers have been
purchasing hay from across the Southeast to feed livestock,
especially earlier this year.

On Feb 13, 2017 the Alabama Forestry Commission issued a press
release stating that drought-plagued trees were continuing to die
across the state. Then, forestry professionals from across the state
of Alabama met to discuss the issue. In a press release dated March
7th, the Alabama Forestry Commission asserted again that large
numbers of pine and hardwood trees were dying across the state as a
direct result of the drought. Ground inspection from surveys
indicated that the drought weakened trees sufficiently to make them
more susceptible to infestation and damage by a range of pests, such
as the southern pine beetle. The Alabama Forest Commission stated
that more areal and ground surveys will be conducted to assess the
damage and beetle activity.

Climate Summary...
So far through mid-March, temperatures have averaged below normal.
Precipitation has been mixed across the area during the month of
March, with amounts generally near to above normal in northwestern
Alabama and near to below normal in northeastern Alabama. In southern
middle Tennessee, amounts have generally been near normal.

During the month of February, temperatures averaged well above
normal, while precipitation was below normal at nearly all
locations. This February finished as the warmest on record at
Huntsville and Muscle Shoals, and was among the top 10 warmest at
most other observing stations in the area. Precipitation deficits
were highest in the west, where amounts of two to four inches below
normal were common across nearly all of Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin
and Lawrence Counties. Precipitation amounts were generally one to
two inches below normal in the remainder of the area for February.

Longer-term precipitation deficits still remain, which is part of
the reason for the continuing drought designations across the area.
On 90-day timescales, precipitation deficits are around two to six
inches across much of the area, with the exception of northeastern
Alabama, where precipitation amounts are near normal. Some locations
in central Sand Mountain even show slightly above normal
precipitation during the last three months. On 180-day time scales
(going back to mid September), precipitation deficits are still
around eight to twelve inches across large portions of the
area...especially coincident with the Severe Drought designated
areas, but also across much of northwestern Alabama. Precipitation
deficits are still around four to eight inches across much of
northeastern Alabama and in some locations in southern middle
Tennessee. The highest precipitation deficits are in portions of
Cullman, Marshall, Franklin (TN), Lawrence, Colbert, Lauderdale and
Limestone Counties.

Longer-term temperatures have averaged well above normal for most of
the last year which helped lead to the development and sustenance of
drought conditions. Average temperatures this past fall and winter
ranked as the warmest on record at Huntsville, while fall was also
warmest on record at Muscle Shoals, but winter ranked as the 2nd
warmest on record there. From March 16th last year to March 15th
this year, temperatures are the warmest on record at both Huntsville
and Muscle Shoals. This same period was also the warmest on record
at locations such as Crossville, Fayetteville, Guntersville, and
Scottsboro.

Precipitation/Temperature Outlook...
Temperatures have been well below normal for the last few days, but
a warming trend began today that will bring temperatures closer to
normal this weekend. Temperatures on Monday may average well above
normal, but then are expected to fall to near normal levels for
Tuesday and Wednesday. Showers and a few thunderstorms are expected
to impact the region Friday night and early Saturday, but rainfall
amounts are expected to be around one half inch or less at most
locations. Locations that experience brief, heavier thunderstorms
could receive more rainfall though. Another round of showers and a
few thunderstorms is expected late Monday night and Tuesday early
next week. Rainfall amounts may be similar, with most locations
receiving just perhaps one half inch of precipitation or less.
Although, due to thunderstorm activity, rainfall amounts may vary
considerably. Overall, precipitation amounts during the week are
expected to be close to normal.

The Outlook for Week Two (March 24th to 30th) from the Climate
Prediction Center (CPC) moderately favors above normal temperatures
and precipitation for the area.

The Monthly Outlook for April from the CPC moderately favors above
normal temperatures, with equal chances for below, near or above
normal precipitation.

The latest Seasonal Outlook from the CPC for the April through June
period from the CPC strongly favors above normal temperatures, with
equal chances for below, near or above normal precipitation.

The latest Seasonal Drought Outlook from the CPC valid for the
period from March 16, 2017 through June 30, 2017 indicates that
drought conditions are likely to end in portions of northern and
northwestern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee, while drought
conditions are expected to remain but improve in southern and
eastern portions of the area.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook...
River and creek streamflows have been significantly affected by the
prolonged drought conditions, especially from last fall through the
winter. However, streamflow conditions have improved markedly over
the last couple of weeks. Most streams are now near or above the
50th percentile (7-day averaged streamflow) in northeastern and north
central Alabama and in southern middle Tennessee. Streamflows are a
little lower compared to climatology in western areas, but have
certainly improved recently.

Lake and river levels along the heavily regulated Tennessee River
system have largely been unaffected by drought conditions over the
last year and most are operating within or close to normal pool
levels, although Pickwick and Wheeler lakes are operating slightly
above their guide curves for this time of year. Tims Ford Lake and
Lewis Smith Lakes also continue to operate above their respective
guide curves for this time of year.

According to the CPC, the latest Daily Soil Moisture rankings
continue to indicate low soil moisture values for this time of year.
As of March 15th, soil moisture rankings were generally around the
1st to 5th percentiles across much of northeastern Alabama and a
small part of northwestern Alabama, and only in the 5th to 10th
percentiles elsewhere.

The U.S. Geological Survey groundwater well site in Cullman County
shows that groundwater levels fell below the daily median value
during the March to late April period last year and have remained
below average since that time. Water levels climbed steadily from
late January into mid-February, but have since leveled off. Water
depth values remain about five feet below the median daily value.

Groundwater levels at the USGS well site in Lawrence County declined
rapidly from early September into late November, but rose sharply
after heavy rainfall in late November into early December. Since
early December, well water depths at this location have been near
normal.

The outlook is for near steady soil moisture conditions and
streamflows over the next week due to expectations for overall near
normal precipitation and temperatures.

Next issuance date...
The next Drought Statement will be issued Thursday, March 123, 2017.

&&

Related Web Sites...(use lower case)

U.S. Drought Monitor webpage: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

Climate Prediction Center: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

For information about Alabama Drought Declarations, visit:
http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/divisions/owr/pages/default.aspx

For information from the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit:
http://forestry.alabama.gov

Wildfire information from the Alabama Forestry Commission:
http://forestry.alabama.gov/fire_totals.aspx?bv=1&s=4

Radar estimated precipitation amounts can be obtained here:
http://water.weather.gov/precip

Streamflows are obtained from the USGS here:
http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php

Lake levels for the Tennessee River can be obtained here:
http://www.tva.com/lakeinfo/

USGS groundwater well site information for Alabama:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/al/nwis/current/
?type=gw&group_key=county_cd

Acknowledgements...

Some data used in this statement were provided by the U.S.
Department
of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Tennessee Valley
Authority, and the States of Alabama and Tennessee.

Questions or Comments...

For questions or comments on the drought, please contact:
National Weather Service Huntsville
320A Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35805
Phone: 256-890-8503
sr-hun.webmaster@noaa.gov

$$

KDW



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