February 20, 2013 - February to date has ranged from very dry in the west to fairly wet in the east. Precipitation amounts of about 1/2 inch or less have been reported in western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and western Virginia. Meanwhile, 2 to 3 inches has fallen in the central and southern Delmarva Peninsula and Tidewater Region of Virginia. In between, an inch or two has fallen. Calendar year 2013 has been quite wet in central and southern Virginia where precipitation has been 1 to 3 inches above normal. Elsewhere, precipitation has been about normal plus or minus an inch or so. Recent dryness in February has been reversing this trend. Over the past 90 days, precipitation has been generally near normal plus or minus an inch or so.

Current (February 20) streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that streamflows are generally normal in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and northern Virginia. Elsewhere in Virginia, flows are below or much below normal... an indicator of recent dry weather. Groundwater levels are generally near normal.

The US Drought Monitor, as of February 12, indicates that abnormally dry conditions exist in west-central Virginia. The state of Virginia has dropped the drought watch for the Appomattox River Basin and the middle James River region. But, the drought watch continues for the upper James River region. Drought declarations, if any, are declared by individual states.

Minimal snow amounts of an inch or so (along with isolated higher amounts) are on the ground in far western Maryland. Little or none is on the ground elsewhere. Snow water equivalent, or the amount of water that will be released from the snow when it melts, is under 1 inch in far western Maryland and adjoining parts of West Virginia. This snow water equivalent is considered to be hydrologically insignificant.

The weather outlook through early March calls for near or above normal precipitation along with near average temperatures. 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 in the south and good in the north which is now less encouraging from previous outlooks. Significant rainfall in January helped to alleviate much of the dry conditions in central Virginia, but an extended dry period has returned to much of the southern portion of the MARFC area. With near or even above average precipitation expected, continued improvement is also expected. However, expectations of above average precipitation for the past several weeks have yet to occur. If this trend continues and dry weather continues, then the outlook for this region may change once again especially in the most vulnerable areas such as central Virginia and even parts of the Delmarva Peninsula. Additionally, winter will begin to wind down in the coming weeks which typically leads to an increase in water usage. For now, water supplies and resources are expected to remain sufficient to abundant 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 increase in the upcoming weeks based mainly on current precipitation forecasts. With near or above normal precipitation expected, water resources should remain sufficient or abundant and no water shortages are expected at least for the next several weeks. However, if the current dry weather pattern does not break down then conditions could possibly worsen, especially in Virginia which is most vulnerable to an extended dry period.

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