November Highlights: Below Normal Precipitation. Below Normal Temperatures.

December 6, 2012 - November was dry and cool. Precipitation was 2 to 3 inches below normal while temperatures ranged from 2 to 4 1/2 degrees below normal. December precipitation, so far, has been little or none. Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been 3 to 5 1/2 inches below average in central and west-central Virginia. Precipitation has been 3 to 5 inches above normal in northeast Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula. Elsewhere, precipitation has been near average plus or minus an inch or two. Year to date precipitation for 2012 has been fairly typical overall. The driest area has been in central Virginia, especially in the Appomattox River Basin, where precipitation has been 7 to 13 inches below normal. The wettest areas have been in the Tidewater Region of southeast Virginia as well as parts of the Virginia section of the Delmarva Peninsula where amounts have been 6 to 12 inches above average.

Current (December 6) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are around normal except in the southern two thirds of Virginia where flows are much below normal. Groundwater levels are generally near normal except in southwest Virginia where groundwater levels are now below normal. The drop in flows and groundwater levels reflect the lack of precipitation in November.

The US Drought Monitor, as of December 4, indicates moderate drought conditions in the Appomattox River Basin and surrounding areas of the James River Basin in Virginia. Abnormally dry conditions surround this area. The state of Virginia has posted a drought watch for the Appomattox River Basin. Drought declarations, if any, are declared by individual states.

The weather outlook taking us past the middle of December calls for generally near or above average precipitation and above normal temperatures. This marks an apparent change from the cool and dry conditions we had in November. The Climate Prediction Center's 30 day outlook for December as well as the 90 day outlook for December, 2012 through February, 2013 calls for near average precipitation and temperatures.

The outlook for water resources for the next several weeks looks fair to poor in the south and good to very good further north. The extended period of dry weather (below or much below average precipitation) that we have been experiencing has begun to take a toll, particularly further south. Near or even above normal precipitation is now expected to return which should allow for an improvement in water resources and supplies. So, water supplies and resources are expected to remain sufficient (further south) to abundant (further north) at least into early 2013. A slow worsening and spreading of drought conditions in central and southern Virginia is possible, but the time of year does not favor rapid drought development. Nevertheless, we'll keep an eye on this area.

In summary, the southern portion of the MARFC service area has sufficient to abundant water resources and water supplies. These water resources are likely to remain stable in the upcoming weeks. With near or above normal precipitation expected in the short term and generally near normal longer term precipitation, water resources should remain sufficient or abundant and no water shortages are expected at least through the early parts of 2013. Areas of central and southern Virginia, however, run the risk of decreasing water resources and supplies, despite the time of year, unless more significant precipitation returns soon.