Dry winter allowed drought to develop in Virginia; upcoming rain is only partial help

While snow and bitter cold have dominated our discussion of weather so far this winter, a moderate drought has been quietly creeping into central Virginia over the past several weeks.
Friday’s predicted rain will be helpful for the low streams, lakes and rivers, but it will take more than one soaking storm to stave off groundwater shortages and agricultural impacts during the next growing season.
The rest of the state is classified as abnormally dry, or one step away from showing drought impacts.
A recent report from Virginia’s interagency Drought Monitoring Task Force noted that drinking ponds for livestock are "nearing critically low levels," according to some producers in the western part of the state.
As of Jan. 4, mandatory water-use restrictions remained in place for customers of the Louisa County Water Authority, with voluntary restrictions advised in Strasburg and Front Royal.
No part of Virginia has any sort of short-term surplus, but the Tidewater region has been a bit wetter (and snowier) compared with the other regions.
That’s less than one-third of the typical Dec. 1-Jan. 11 amount of 4.33 inches.
The last time Richmond had less rainfall over the same period on the calendar was during the winter of 1985-86.
Some of this winter’s precipitation total came from rain, and some of it was the liquid equivalent of the snow.
On average, most of our snowstorms are a bit wetter, with a ratio of 11 to 12 inches of snow per 1 inch of liquid water.

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