A stormy pattern – but so much better than the alternative

From the Institute for Climate Education at A-B Tech:It’s hard to overstate the importance of water to the Earth’s climate system. In its three phases — liquid, solid and gas — water helps to drive our local weather as well as our regional climate. Most of us don’t think about plain ol’ water too often, but it’s when we have too much or too little of this precious resource that we really pay attention to it.

Much of Western North Carolina has enjoyed near-normal rainfall so far this summer, thanks in large part to the thunderstorms that blossom in the heat of the afternoon sun. The image above is of thunderstorms that developed along the escarpment, east of Asheville, last week as the late-day sun was catching the tops of the storms.

The chance for storms will continue in our forecast for the foreseeable future, a forecast that most of the rest of the country would be happy to have as severe drought grips much of the nation.

In the U.S. Drought Monitor below, you can see that a significant portion of the county is experiencing drought that is classified as Severe (medium brown), Extreme (red) and even Exceptional (dark brown).

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Drought Mitigation Center, and NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).  NOAA’s NCDC is located right here in Asheville.

On July 11, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that more than 1,000 counties in 26 states qualified as natural disaster areas—the largest total area ever declared a disaster zone by the agency.*

So — what does the long-term forecast hold for the drought-stricken area? The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook below shows some improvement in the Southeast and Southwest U.S., indicated by the green and green-brown hashed areas. But a disturbingly large portion of the U.S., shown in brown, is expected to see the drought continue or even intensify with development of drought conditions expected in the yellow areas.

Image Credit: NOAA’s NWS Climate Prediction Center

In short — enjoy the rain. There are many across the country who only wish that they too could have a scattered thunderstorm or two.

* Drought Grips the United States

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