Drought Watch Lifted

Published 4:33 pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

FARMVILLE – Roll credits.

Cue the music.

The drought watch is over.

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The executive producer, DEQ, says so.

The end.

At least for now in the Middle James River Drought Evaluation Region, which includes the Appomattox River basin and Farmville, Prince Edward, Cumberland and Buckingham.

The Department of Environmental Quality's Drought Monitoring Task Force made the decision based on steady and wide-spread precipitation.

Some form of drought watch or drought warning had been in effect since last summer.

“Precipitation patterns returned to normal or near normal across most of the Commonwealth during January,” the Task Force's monthly report states. “Several significant rain or snow events spread rain and snow across nearly all of Virginia…Consequently, the area of drier than normal conditions that previously covered much of western and central Virginia shrunk significantly.”

The Task Force notes that the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor web pages indicate “no areas containing Moderate Drought conditions are currently mapped in Virginia. Abnormally dry conditions extend across approximately 16 percent of the state, mainly in the Upper James River Basin and upper portions of the Shenandoah River basis.

Over eight inches of precipitation fell in January across much of the region and stream flow conditions over most of the state have improved and “groundwater levels have responded to the precipitation as well,” the report on DEQ's website states.

The continued rain has proved vital to the groundwater recharge. When asked by The Herald last month, DEQ's Director of the Office of Water Supply, Scott W. Kudlas, explained the decision then to keep the drought watch in effect, despite a flooding Appomattox River.

“Due to the lack of groundwater recharge from limited rainfall and very dry soil (the soil must be saturated before groundwater can recharge) most of the rainfall to date has resulted in stream flow that quickly recedes to low levels…The other thing to note is that our statistics reset October 1 so folks often get caught up in looking at calendar year numbers, particularly for precipitation, which isn't relevant to hydrologic analysis,” Kudlas explained.

“This rainfall is welcome and will certainly help but we started the water year in a deficit and we should be seeing an inch a week or more this time of year. It may be that this rainfall changes the watch designation in a couple of weeks. We will have to wait,” Kudlas wrote, “and see.”

We waited.

We've seen.

The watch is over.