Winter drought poised to make a summer comeback

WASHINGTON — The region’s winter drought is trying to make a summer comeback. Verdant pastures have turned to brown straw and local rain barrels are nearly empty.

At Reagan National Airport, no measurable rain fell during the first half of June. The monthly rainfall total was only 1.13 inches, making it the third driest June on record.

“That’s a shortfall of almost two and three quarters of an inch,” said Storm Team4 Meteorologist Matt Ritter, adding that the midmonth heat wave only added to the moisture woes.

“It was a warm month; eight days over 90 degrees. That’s going to dry out the topsoil really quickly,” Ritter said.

The monthly average temperature was above normal, according to the National Weather Service. The high temperature reached 95 degrees on June 12 and 13. Nighttime temperatures between those dates failed to fall below a muggy 75 degrees.

The National Drought Mitigation Center has listed the Washington Metro area as abnormally dry, one step away from a moderate drought status.

More recently dry conditions have developed over northern Virginia. Mapping from the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service shows parts of Prince William and Stafford counties have received less than 25 percent of their normal monthly rainfall.

A scarcity of afternoon pop-up storms and a near miss from Tropical Storm Cindy has worsened the dry streak.

The majority of the D.C. metro area spent the final weeks of winter in a severe drought. Only 0.68 inches of precipitation was logged for the month of February at Reagan National Airport, making it the sixth driest February on record and worsening significant, long-term rainfall deficits carried over from 2016.

Dave Dildine

A native to the Washington area, Dave Dildine is no stranger to the region's complex traffic and weather patterns. Dave joined WTOP in 2010 when the station launched its very own in-house traffic service. You can hear him "on the 8s and when it breaks" from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

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