January 2, 2013 - Precipitation in December ended up being mostly around normal plus or minus up to an inch or 1 1/2 inches. Temperatures in December were quite warm averaging 5 to 6 1/2 degrees above normal. For calendar year 2012, precipitation was fairly typical overall. The driest area was in central Virginia, especially in the Appomattox River Basin, where precipitation was 7 to 13 inches below normal. The wettest areas were in the Tidewater Region of southeast Virginia as well as parts of the Virginia section of the Delmarva Peninsula where amounts ran 7 to 12 inches above average. Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been 3 to nearly 6 inches below average in central and west-central Virginia. Precipitation has been 3 to 6 inches above normal in northeast Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula. Elsewhere, precipitation has been near average plus or minus an inch or so.

Current (January 2) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are near normal in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia but are below normal in the rest of Virginia. Groundwater levels are generally near or below normal.

The US Drought Monitor, as of December 25, 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.

Late December brought a series of snow events to northern and especially mountainous western areas of the southern part of MARFC service area. Snow water equivalent, or the amount of water that will be released from the snow when it melts, is about 1 to 2 inches in western Maryland and much of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Should a significant rain occur along with warm temperatures, this snowpack will add to runoff.

The weather outlook into the middle of January calls for below normal precipitation and temperatures early in the period but then both precipitation and temperatures are expected to go above average as we approach the middle of the month. The Climate Prediction Center's 30 day outlook for January, 2013 calls for near average precipitation and above normal temperatures. 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. Though we are currently in a dry weather pattern, the extended period of dry weather (below or much below average precipitation) has been showing signs of breaking down in favor of a wetter (and possibly snowier) weather pattern. Near or even above normal precipitation is expected 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 west-central 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 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 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.