Winter Rains Mean Reduced Chance of Summer Drought

Clint Thompson Top Posts, Weather

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map shows sporadic parts of Florida, Georgia and Alabama that are classified as abnormally dry.

Rainfall this winter should mean less potential for dry conditions in the summer for vegetable and specialty crop producers in the Southeast. That could mean less need for irrigation usage for farmers during the hot summer months of June through August.

Rain has not been lacking across the Southeast, especially during the latter part of December and so far in the first couple of weeks of January. It was especially persistent during the New Year’s Holiday weekend.

“Having more rain in the winter reduces our chance to have drought in the summer, so that’s good,” said Pam Knox, University of Georgia Extension Agricultural Climatologist. “The cooler temperatures do help to keep the moisture in the soil as well. When it’s really dry, you get more evaporation, even in the winter. All of these things we’re seeing, cooler conditions and wetter conditions, mean that we’re less likely to see dry spells in the spring that would impact farmers.”

Georgia Rains

According to the Georgia Automated Weather Network, from Jan. 1 to Jan. 9, Tifton, Georgia received 4.41 inches, compared to 0.76 in 2020 and 1.32 in 2019. In Vidalia, Georgia, where onions are being produced, there was 3.65 inches recorded during that same timeframe, compared to 1.58 in 2020 and 0.77 in 2019.

“On the short term, it looks like we’re probably going to see a whole series of storm systems move through. That’s pretty not typical for a La Nina year for the Southeast. But the way the weather patterns have set up this year with that dip in the jetstream over the eastern half of the country, we’re probably going to see more storms,” Knox said. “They’re talking about potentially, although snow in the Southeast is pretty hard to get, we might see some. But it would most likely be in the mountains rather than in any other part of the state.

“But we still have the whole month of February and March to go too. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what happens.”