DC falling behind on precipitation this year

It turns out Mother Nature also celebrated Dry January. And February and March, too.

While we notice it more during the growing season, when the grass dries out and lawns turn brown, the numbers show D.C. needs a few rainy days.

For the first two and a half months of the year, 2023 is the sixth driest start to the calendar year on record in the D.C. area.

Precipitation (melted snow, ice and rainfall) is more than 3 inches behind average. March has only delivered 18% of average rainfall so far.

The latest precipitation statistics for D.C. for the year and March alone (NOAA data)

The primary storm track has been too far north to bring D.C. appreciable rainfall.

As of its latest update on Thursday, March 16, the U.S. Drought Monitor did not officially list D.C. as having an “abnormally dry” spell, which is one level away from “moderate drought.”

However, its update later this week could expand the “abnormally dry” area from southern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and southern Maryland north into the D.C. area.

Low fuel moisture is seen in the Mid-Atlantic; the lower the percentage, the better chance for brush fires to spread once they develop. (Courtesy Wildland Fire Assessment from the Rocky Mountain Research Center)

The recent dry streak has primed the ground for an enhanced risk for brush fires on warm, windy days. Recent 10-hour fuel moisture has dropped to 10% for the Mid-Atlantic. Our next opportunity for an enhanced brush fire risk could be Thursday afternoon due to the breezy and warm weather expected.

Fortunately, the latest trends support occasional rain late this week into next week, which will help make up for some of March’s loss and keep the region out of a developing drought. Historically, May through July are D.C.’s wettest months of the year, so there is ample opportunity to make up for a dry winter.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up