Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Sterling, VA
AXUS71 KLWX 231323
Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Baltimore MD/Washington DC
923 AM EDT Thu Mar 23 2017
...SEVERE DROUGHT CONDITIONS PERSIST WEST/SOUTHWEST OF DC...BUT
IMPROVEMENT OCCURRING IN SOME AREAS...
As of March 21st 2017, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that
Severe Drought (D2) conditions are persisting west and southwest
of the District of Columbia. The following indicates the worst
drought category in each county/city where such conditions exist:
Severe Drought (D2) in all or portions of:
District of Columbia, Montgomery County, Fairfax County, Loudoun
County, Prince William County, Fauquier County, Culpeper County,
Orange County, and the cities of Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas
Park. (Change from last statement: D2 improved to D1 in the
counties of Arlington, Howard, Anne Arundel, Prince George`s,
Stafford, and Spotsylvania, and the cities of Falls Church and
Moderate Drought (D1) in all or portions of:
Frederick County (MD), Carroll County, Baltimore County,
Harford County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Prince
George`s County, Arlington County, Stafford County, Spotsylvania
County, Rappahannock County, Madison County, Greene County,
Albemarle County, Nelson County, Augusta County, Rockingham
County, Page County, Highland County, Pendleton County, and the
cities of Baltimore, Falls Church, Alexandria, Charlottesville,
Waynesboro, Staunton, and Harrisonburg. (Change from last
statement: D1 improved to D0 in Charles County and the city of
Fredericksburg and D0 degraded to D1 in the counties of
Rockingham, Page, Highland, and Pendleton, and the cities of
Staunton and Harrisonburg.)
A small portion of the area is designated as Abnormally Dry (D0),
which includes portions of Shenandoah County, Warren County,
Clarke County, Jefferson County, Berkeley County, Washington
County, and Charles County.
SUMMARY OF IMPACTS...
State and Local Declarations:
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) continues the
declaration of a Drought Warning for the Central Region of the
state, which includes Frederick, Carroll, and Harford Counties,
and portions of Montgomery and Baltimore Counties not served by
the Baltimore or WSSC public water systems. This drought warning
is based on indicators of precipitation, groundwater, streamflow,
and reservoir storage. In a Drought Warning, water conservation is
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has
declared a Drought Watch for the Northern Piedmont region of the
state, which includes Culpeper, Greene, Madison, Orange,
Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties, and the City of
Fredericksburg. A Drought Watch has also been declared for the
Northern Virginia region, which specifically applies to public or
private groundwater supplies or private surface water supplies in
Fauquier, Prince William, and Loudoun Counties. Water systems
using the Potomac or Occoquan are not included in this
Soil moisture is below normal across most of the area, and is well
below normal particularly in the Severe Drought (D2) and Moderate
Drought (D1) areas, where in many spots it is below the 5th
percentile for this time of year.
Recent rainfall has caused some variation in groundwater levels
compared to prior weeks. Many of the real-time groundwater
monitoring wells, especially the shallower aquifers, have seen a
tangible rise in water levels. This is especially true in Northern
Virginia and central Maryland. The deeper wells, and those in
Central Virginia, still do not show much movement; and in fact,
the monitoring site in Orange County is still at its lowest level
at this time of year in the last ten years.
The unseasonably warm and dry weather in February caused trees
and flowers to bud several weeks earlier than usual. Recent hard
freezes have caused some damage to these plants. Assessments from
agricultural analysts will be available in the coming week and
will be provided in the next drought statement. Some pasturelands
are in poor condition due to the lack of rain. The warmer weather
caused the maple sap season to end earlier than usual, lessening
Fire Danger Impacts:
The 4:00 p.m. Burning Law is in effect through April 30th for all
of Virginia. This law mandates that no burning is permitted
before 4 p.m. if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland,
brushland, or fields containing dry grass or other flammable
At this time, there are no other known burn bans in place.
However, that can quickly change so please consult your county or
state fire officials before attempting to burn.
While there have not been any blockbuster rain events, the weather
pattern has turned more active in the last two weeks or so,
bringing multiple opportunities for rain and even snow. In the
week since the last drought statement, precipitation has been
above normal from DC southward to Fredericksburg, and in a few
other spotty areas. Combining this with the week before (14 days)
yields above normal precipitation almost everywhere east of the
Blue Ridge (except near Charlottesville).
Deficits still exist at longer timescales, which is the primary
reflection of the Drought Monitor at present. However, these
deficits are no longer among the ten driest on record for the time
A brief break in the weather pattern with high pressure over the
Atlantic will keep conditions generally dry through Saturday the
25th. The pattern looks to become more active from Sunday the 26th
through Tuesday the 28th, with multiple opportunities for rain
showers, and totals perhaps exceeding an inch. This could allow
for continued improvement of drought conditions. Temperatures
should be at or above normal through the week.
The 8-to-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center favors
above normal precipitation and above normal temperatures.
The drought outlook calls for drought conditions to be alleviated
by the end of June, except in the Severe Drought areas, where it
is expected to persist but with improving conditions.
HYDROLOGIC SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK...
Recent rains have provided improvement to base streamflow in most
of Maryland, the DC metro area, and extreme eastern West Virginia
panhandle. These streamflows are still below normal overall, but
are much improved than they were a week or two ago. Streamflows
are still low in much of Northern Virginia, especially as you go
further south and west from DC. Several streams in the Upper
Rapidan, Upper Rappahannock, Middle James, and South Fork
Shenandoah River basins are at record lows for this time of year.
Upcoming rains should bring additional short-term improvement, but
the overall improvement will be gradual.
Soil moisture levels are also expected to remain below normal,
while groundwater conditions are expected to remain generally
unchanged or slightly improve. Given that there are now flowering
plants and trees are leafing out, these plants need the water and
will soak up groundwater and soil moisture that does attempt to
NEXT ISSUANCE DATE...
This product will be issued weekly as long as Severe Drought (D2)
conditions exist within the Baltimore/Washington area of
responsibility. As such, the next update will be on Friday March
RELATED WEB SITES...
Additional information on current drought conditions may be found
at the following web addresses...
US Drought Monitor...http://www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu
NWS Drought Page...http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/drought
Climate Prediction Center (CPC)...http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
ADDITIONAL RIVER INFORMATION...
National Weather Service...http://water.weather.gov
US Geological Survey...http://water.usgs.gov
The drought monitor is a multi-agency effort involving NOAA`s
National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center, the
USDA, state and regional center climatologists, and the National
Drought Mitigation Center. Information for this statement has
been gathered from NWS and FAA observation sites, State
Cooperative Extension Services, the USDA, USACE, and USGS.
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS...
If you have questions or comments about this Drought Information
National Weather Service
43858 Weather Service Road
Sterling, VA 20166