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SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2007
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March driest in Valley since record of 1910

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

Last month barely missed being Decatur’s driest March on record, and April isn’t looking much better.

Pryor Field reported 0.71 inches of rain, trailing only the 0.65 inches that fell in 1910 as the driest March, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

Decatur had three days of measurable rainfall last month: 0.59 inches March 1, 0.10 inches March 15 and 0.02 inches March 16. March typically is the wettest month of the year, with an average of 6 inches of rain.

In addition to dry conditions, the area experienced unseasonably warm temperatures. The mercury topped 70 on 21 days and 80 seven times.

Twice temperatures reached 88, and the weather service said that was consistent with 1910, when it reached 90 the last day of March.

The hot, dry conditions result from the Bermuda High being farther west than normal and jet stream farther north. Together, they’re causing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to flow through Texas and the Plains states across the Midwest, bypassing the Southeast, the weather service said.

The good news is the jet stream will move toward the south in the middle of the week, bringing cooler temperatures, said Jason Elliott, NWS meteorologist.

It will break up the pattern that’s kept the region dry for the past weeks and even bring a little rain, he said. But that could be the last rain for a couple weeks.

“The bad news is we get another high-pressure system over us again,” Elliott said.

“It’s not the Bermuda High, so it won’t be a warm high,
but it’s going to be high press-ure nonetheless, looks like
over the northern and central Plains.

“It will be cooler but not necessarily a lot of rain,” he said. “The Gulf of Mexico will still be closed off, just from the other direction.”

Based on 1910 records when the region was experiencing the same weather patterns as this year, April could bring some drastic temperature changes.

For example, the thermometer read 82 on April 23, 1910, then fell to 32 three days later and then rose to 87 three days after that.

“The reason it would do that is because it was so dry,” Elliott said.

“We’re actually going to experience that this week. Not quite that extreme, but we’re looking at possibly mid-80s for Monday and mid-30s for lows by the end of the week.”

Weather records show April 1910 got 3 inches of rain for the month, but nearly all of that fell on one day.

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