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WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2007
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July’s rainfall still not enough
Moisture up so far in month; drought conditions remain

By Evan Belanger
ebelanger@decaturdaily.com · 340-2442

For the first time this year, rainfall in the Decatur area is exceeding expectations, but forecasters say it has not been enough to significantly impact current drought conditions.

According to the National Weather Service in Huntsville, total rainfall for the first nine days of July was about 1.8 inches.

While the recent precipitation was not enough to have any long-term impact on drought conditions, it was about 0.5 inches above normal for the month so far.

If the rainy conditions continue, much of North Alabama could end July with above-average rainfall for the month, said Dave Nadler, a forecaster with the weather service.

“We haven’t been above normal for a month of precipitation for quite some time,” he said. “There’s no question we’ve seen an increase in rainfall over the past week or 10 days.”

But according to Nadler, if long-term drought conditions are to improve, much more rain is needed. As of Monday, most of North Alabama, including Decatur, was still about 18.5 inches below normal rainfall for the year.

That means several more sustained, soaking rains are needed throughout the year to bring levels back up to normal.

More rain coming?

According to Nadler, with tropical-weather season approaching, usually hitting in late summer and early fall, rain chances could be improving soon.

On Tuesday, he said a low-pressure system was already moving up the eastern seaboard, allowing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to move into North Alabama.

“That’s kind of all coming together to help us see some more rainfall,” Nadler said. “But we’ve seen more organized areas of precipitation over the last week or two, which has been good.”

Most of this year’s drought, according to Nadler, was the result of a high-pressure system blanketing the Southeast and blocking most of the normal spring and summer thunderstorms.

While the recent rainfall was not enough to change local drought conditions, it did trigger a response from the Alabama Forestry Commission.

In a press release Tuesday, the commission announced it was lifting burn bans in South Alabama and downgrading the ban to a fire alert in North Alabama.

In counties under a fire alert, trash and debris may be burned with caution, as may other small fires. The Forestry Commission will place stricter requirements on fires that require a permit from the commission.

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