Drought not getting any better throughout Virginia

Published: Feb. 1, 2018 at 5:34 PM EST
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The drought monitor was updated with the start of February, and more than 97% of Virginia is abnormally dry, and almost half of the commonwealth is in a moderate drought. Most of our area is still in a moderate drought, and some parts of the state are even in a severe drought.

We received just over half of the rainfall we normally receive in the month of January, and after starting the year with drought conditions carried over from 2017, we could be facing a serious drought this spring and summer.

John Miller, with the Virginia Department of Forestry, said a drought like this is unusual in Virginia, especially because we normally recharge our ground water in the winter. Drought is much more likely in spring and summer, driving up the chance of conditions getting significantly worse in the coming months.

"If we're looking at 10-12 inches of rainfall deficit carried over from the fall, obviously the only way we can really solve that is to get 10 or 12 inches of rain, and that's not real likely to happen during the spring," explained Miller.

These dry conditions also pose an increased risk of wildfires. The Virginia Department of Forestry has already responded to 52 wildfires this year.

"There's an increasing likelihood of having more wildfires than would normally be the case. And even to some degree maybe an increase in the severity of those wildfires if they do occur," Miller said.

Miller explained it only takes one good rainfall event to turn things around, but some places across the state have already seen water restrictions.

He said if these drought conditions continue, more places could see water restrictions this spring or summer.

We have rain in the forecast this week, but it will not be enough to put a dent in the drought.