January 25, 2013 - To date, January (and 2013) precipitation has been quite light with amounts ranging from 1/2 to 1 inch below average in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia. Precipitation has been much more abundant further south where the precipitation has been needed the most. In areas from central Virginia eastward into the Tidewater Region of Virginia, precipitation has been 2 to 3 inches above normal (a zone of near normal separates the dry in the north from the wet in the south). Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been 1 to nearly 4 inches below average in west-central Virginia. Precipitation has been 3 to 7 inches above normal in the Delmarva Peninsula and Chesapeake Bay area. Elsewhere, precipitation has been near average plus or minus an inch or so. However, much of this excess precipitation was the result of "Sandy" which will soon no longer play a role in these precipitation departures. Since "Sandy," precipitation has been below average in many areas.

Current (January 25) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are generally normal with some below normal flows scattered throughout the region. Groundwater levels are generally near normal.

The US Drought Monitor, as of January 22, indicates moderate drought conditions in west-central Virginia with abnormally dry conditions surrounding this area. This is a reduction of coverage over the past week or so as a result of recent heavy rainfall. 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.

Colder weather and a couple of light snow events have left 1 to as much as 3 inches of snow on the ground in sections of the southern portion of the MARFC service area. In the absence of a signifcant snowfall, snow water equivalent, or the amount of water that will be released from the snow when it melts, is mostly under 1/2 inch where there is snow on the ground. For now, this snow water equivalent is hydrologically insignificant.

The weather outlook through the first week of February calls for below normal precipitation in the near term but then above normal precipitation afterwards. Despite some near or above average temperatures for the end of January, overall, temperatures are expected to average below normal. The Climate Prediction Center's 30 day outlook for February as well as the 90 day outlook for February through April calls for near average precipitation and temperatures.

The outlook for water resources for the next several weeks looks fair to good in the south and good to very good further north. A significant rainfall has helped to alleviate some of the dry conditions in central Virginia. But an extended period of above normal precipitation is what will be needed to completely end the dry conditions. With near or above average precipitation expected for at least a short while, continued improvement is expected. However, a return to dry weather could reverse the trend of improvement. Water supplies and resources are expected to remain sufficient (further south) to abundant (further north) for the next several weeks.

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 near term and generally near normal longer term precipitation, water resources should remain sufficient or abundant and no water shortages are expected at least for the next few weeks. Short term improvement has occurred in Virginia and should continue to improve with normal or above normal precipitation.