December 22, 2012 - December, so far, is continuing the trend of below average precipitation. There are a couple of wetter areas in far western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and even the northern Delmarva Peninsula where rainfall has been normal to as much as 1 inch above normal. But, the rest of the southern portion of the MARFC service area is 1/2 to 1 inch below normal. Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been 3 to 6 inches below average in central and west-central Virginia. Precipitation has been 3 to 5 inches above normal in northeast Maryland and the northern 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 11 inches above average.

Current (December 22) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are near or above normal in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware but are near or below normal in Virginia. Groundwater levels are generally near or below normal.

The US Drought Monitor, as of December 18, indicates moderate drought conditions in the Appomattox River Basin and much 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 and the upper and middle James River region. Drought declarations, if any, are declared by individual states.

The weather outlook over the next couple of weeks calls for above normal precipitation with below normal temperatures. This could lead to snow, especially in the northern and western areas. The Climate Prediction Center's 30 day outlook for January, 2013 as well as the 90 day outlook for January, 2013 through March, 2013 calls for near average precipitation and temperatures.

The outlook for water resources for the next several weeks looks fair 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 show signs of breaking down in favor of a wetter (and possibly snowier) weather pattern. 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 or increase in the upcoming weeks. With 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 in the southern half of Virginia, however, run the risk of decreasing water resources and supplies, despite the time of year, unless more significant precipitation returns soon.