Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Huntsville, AL
AXUS74 KHUN 062001
Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Huntsville AL
301 PM CDT Thu Apr 6 2017
...Drought conditions continue to improve across parts of the area
over the last week...
According to the Drought Monitor valid Tuesday, April 4, 2017,
Severe Drought (D2) Conditions remain only in extreme southern
portions of Cullman County. Elsewhere, drought designations have been
scaled back in parts of northwestern Alabama from Moderate Drought
(D1) to Abnormally Dry (D0). Most of Morgan, Lawrence, Colbert, and
Franklin (AL) Counties are now designated as Abnormally Dry. The
Moderate Drought designation remains far western portions of Franklin
(AL) and Colbert Counties, and along a swath from western Lauderdale
through southwestern Madison Counties. This includes locations from
Waterloo, to Killen, Rogersville, Mooresville and Triana. Moderate
Drought designations also remain for much of Cullman County, and
southern portions of Marshall and DeKalb County. Abnormally Dry (D0)
conditions are occurring elsewhere, including much of northern
Limestone and Madison Counties, northern Marshall, and most of
Jackson and DeKalb Counties. A portion of northwestern Jackson County
is not considered in any type of drought. In the Tennessee Counties,
only eastern Lincoln and Moore Counties are included in the
Abnormally Dry designation.
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 note 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.
Crop and Progress Condition Reports from the USDA National
Agricultural Statistics Service have now resumed for the primary
growing season. In the latest report, issued April 3rd, the Farm
Service Agency (FSA) in Lawrence County reported that due to drought
conditions and continual overgrazing, pasture conditions have
remained at fair levels across the county. It was also reported that
wheat conditions appeared to be good, and although there was some
concern from the recent freeze, no signs of damage have been
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 Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) available from the U.S. Forest
Service Wildland Fire Assessment System shows that values are below
300 across the entire region.
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 and adjacent areas. 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.
Temperatures have averaged much above normal during the last week,
with high temperatures mainly in the 70s and 80s and overnight lows
ranging from the mid 40s to around 60. Normal high temperatures this
time of year are in the mid 60s to low 70s, while normal low
temperatures are in the low to mid 40s. Precipitation has averaged
above normal at most locations during the last week, values generally
about one half to one inch above normal in northern parts of the area
(generally north of the Tennessee River) and values about one to two
inches above normal in southern portions of the area. Normal weekly
rainfall for this time of year is around 1 to 1.25 inches.
During the month of March, temperatures averaged above normal. The
first ten days of the month experienced near to slightly above normal
temperatures, but a dramatic pattern change brought much below
normal temperatures to the region from the 11th through the 16th.
Nearly all locations experienced a hard freeze on the mornings of the
15th and 16th before a warming trend began. Temperatures were
significantly above normal generally from March 20th through the end
of the month. Monthly average temperatures finished around two
degrees above normal. Precipitation was above normal for most
locations during the month of March, especially in parts of Franklin
(AL) and Colbert Counties, eastward through the Bankhead National
Forest and southern Morgan County, across much of DeKalb and eastern
Marshall, and from northwestern Jackson County into southern Middle
Tennessee. Meanwhile, rainfall was a little below normal in parts of
southern Limestone and southwestern Madison Counties (including
Huntsville International Airport), western Lauderdale, and in central
and southern portions of Cullman County.
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 amounts are around two to four
inches below normal across parts of northwestern Alabama, while
surpluses generally exist in northeastern Alabama. On 180-day time
scales (going back to early October), precipitation is still around
eight inches below normal across parts of Cullman County, and
especially in western Lauderdale and Colbert Counties. Many areas
still have precipitation deficits around two to eight inches
elsewhere in northwestern and north central Alabama.
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 during the 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. Over the last 365 days, temperatures are well above
normal and are in fact the warmest on record for any such period in
the historical record at several locations in our area, including,
but not limited to: Huntsville, Muscle Shoals, Belle Mina,
Crossville, Guntersville, Scottsboro, Valley Head, and Fayetteville.
Temperatures are expected to average much below normal today through
Saturday, but then a warm up will begin, with above normal
temperatures generally expected from Sunday through late next week.
Precipitation amounts are expected to be below normal for the area
during the week ahead. A cold front will approach the area on
Tuesday, but is expected to weaken. Only small amounts of
precipitation (generally under one quarter of an inch) are currently
anticipated ahead of this front. Another weak system will bring
chances for precipitation to the area late next week, but chances for
significant precipitation are rather small at this time.
The Outlook for Week Two (April 14th to April 20th) from the Climate
Prediction Center (CPC) strongly favors above normal temperatures
across the region. Below normal precipitation is slightly favored
for northeastern Alabama, while equal chances for below, near or
above normal precipitation exist for northwestern portions of the
The Monthly Outlook for April from the CPC continues to favor above
normal temperatures, with equal chances for below, near or above
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.
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 month. Recent rainfall over the past week has also
contributed to higher streamflows, with values now generally around
the 50th to 80th percentile at most stream measuring gauges.
Lake and river levels along the heavily regulated Tennessee River
system have largely been unaffected by drought conditions over the
last year. Lakes along the Tennessee River channel are, in fact,
running a little over the normal guide curve for this time of year,
including Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick Lakes. Tims Ford
Lake, Bear Creek Lake and Smith Lakes are also running a little
ahead of their normal 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 April 5th, soil moisture rankings were generally around the
5th to 10th percentiles in parts of northeastern Alabama, with soil
moisture at the 10th to 20th percentile 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 remained below
average until late March. Groundwater levels finally rose to above
the average daily value on March 30th and have since remained above
Groundwater levels at the USGS well site in Lawrence County declined
rapidly from early September into late November last year, but rose
sharply after heavy rainfall in late November into early December.
Since early March, well water depths at this location have been
fairly consistently near to above normal.
The outlook is for slightly degraded conditions over the next week
due mainly to the small amounts of rainfall expected. The dry, windy
conditions today and the low afternoon humidity values expected this
weekend will likewise exacerbate the loss of soil moisture.
Next issuance date...
The next Drought Statement will be issued Thursday, April 13, 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:
For information from the Alabama Forestry Commission, visit:
Wildfire information from the Alabama Forestry Commission:
Radar estimated precipitation amounts can be obtained here:
Streamflows are obtained from the USGS here:
Lake levels for the Tennessee River can be obtained here:
USGS groundwater well site information for Alabama:
Some data used in this statement were provided by the U.S.
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