Top U.S. weather story of 2007: the Southeast U.S. drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:29 PM GMT on January 01, 2008

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The year 2007 is in the record books as the driest or second driest year on record for much of the Southeastern U.S. A mere 31.85 inches of rain fell in Atlanta, Georgia, during the year, 62% of the average of 48 inches. This year's rainfall total just missed breaking the record of 31.80 inches set in 1954. Rainfall records in Atlanta go back to 1930. The drought was worse in Alabama, where Birmingham had its driest year on record--just 28.86", a full 25 inches below average, smashing the record low of 36.14" set in 1931. Huntsville was even drier--a mere 28.65"--29 inches below average. Surrounding areas of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia also experienced extraordinarily dry years (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Drought conditions in the Southeastern U.S. were at the highest level possible--exceptional drought--at the end of 2007. Image credit: NOAA.

Although the current drought is exceptional, Atlanta has had much drier 2-year periods. During the drought of 1954-1955, Atlanta received 68.23 inches of precipitation--a 28 inch deficit from the normal 2-year rainfall. The deficit for the past two years is only 16 inches, since an average amount of rain fell in 2006 (48.46 inches). Based on the climatological record, Georgia can expect a two-year drought about once in 25 years, and a drought lasting three or more years about once every 40 years. Drought is part of the natural cycle in Georgia, and it would not be a surprise to see the drought of 2007 continue until the winter of 2008. Although December 2007 saw Atlanta's first above average month of rainfall since November 2006, the coming two weeks look very dry, and the current La Nina atmospheric pattern usually brings below average rainfall.

What is causing the Georgia drought?
Two main factors are responsible for the Southeast U.S. drought. Most importantly, a persistent jet stream pattern has set up that steers storms away from the region, and into Texas instead. Texas, which suffered extreme drought in 2006, found itself awash in floods in 2007, as the jet stream pattern brought storm after storm to the state. Another contributing factor to the current Southeast drought is the absence of tropical storms and hurricanes during 2006 and 2007. These storms are an important part of the annual rainfall budget for the Southeast. For example, in 2005, 29% of Atlanta's yearly rainfall came from five tropical storms:

1.36" Arlene June 11-12, 2005
1.40" Katrina, August 29-30, 2005
5.48" Cindy, July 6-8, 2005
5.41" Dennis, July 9-12, 2005
2.94" Tammy, October 6-8, 2005


Figure 2. Over ten inches of rain fell on Atlanta in 2005 from two tropical cyclones, Dennis and Cindy. Tropical cyclones accounted for 29% of Atlanta's rainfall that year. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.

There is little evidence that global warming contributed to this drought. The Southeastern U.S. has cooled by about 0.1° F over the past 100 years, even as the rest of the globe has warmed 1° F. The reasons for this lack of warming in the Southeast are not fully understood. One theory is that the cooling is due to air pollution blocking sunlight. Another theory, proposed by Georgia State Climatologist David Stooksbury, attributes the cooling to the shift from 80 percent row crops (like corn and cotton) to 60 percent forest. Land use changes like this can have a significant impact on how solar energy heats the air once it is absorbed by the soil.

Why Atlanta is vulnerable to drought
Atlanta, unlike most major cities, grew up around rail lines rather than a major body of water. Although the Chattahoochee River runs through Atlanta, the city lies on top of a watershed, with no large bodies of water upstream. The rivers and streams in the region are small, and the bedrock limits how much ground water is available. The Lake Lanier reservoir that supplies Atlanta with most of its water was constructed in the 1950s. Since that time, the population of Atlanta has quadrupled, increasing the pressure on the reservoir's limited water. Lake Lanier is at its record lowest level--more than 19 feet below average. If the drought continues into the summer of 2008, and no tropical storms arrive to break the drought, Atlanta may run out of water.

By 2030, the population of the Atlanta metropolitan area is expected to increase from 5 million to 9 million. Current water resources in the regions will be unable to support this population increase, unless planners make a concerted and expensive effort to plan ahead. The expected increase in temperatures over the coming decades due to global warming will make future droughts in the region even more severe, so Atlanta has a very tough road ahead of it.

Jeff Masters

Georgia Drought Series 2 (HurricaneIan)
Like my last series, this Series of photos concern the drought in North Georgia. These were taken at Lake Chatuge, Georgia. This is near the North Carolina Line and near a town called Hiawassee. North Georgia is experiencing a major drought. These docks are designed to float and adjust to water depth, however, now they are high and dry. The depth of these lakes varies from season to season, however, this is by far the lowest I have ever seen it. This water is not only used for drinking, this is also the primary supply of hydro-electric power for the region. The drought is causing other problems as well, the leaves are not changing properly, some look burnt and others fall off before turning. North Georgia and surrounding areas need rain in the worst way. The good news is it is raining
Georgia Drought Series 2
Scenes from Lake Lanier, GA (DadandMarcher)
Here are a few scenes from Lake Lanier in Buford, GA. We are going through a record setting drought this year. Everyday now we set a new record for the Lake level since the inception of the lake in the 1950's
Scenes from Lake Lanier, GA

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517. LakeShadow
4:37 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
So theres a big storm that Mr. "holds-his-cards-to-his-chest" Weatherman is talking about around the 15th. He usually doesnt try to forecast that far off...sounds like it will be something else, eh?
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516. Bonedog
11:34 AM EST on January 03, 2008
oil hits 100 dollars a barrell again!!!

watching it live
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515. ShenValleyFlyFish
11:36 AM EST on January 03, 2008
Thanks Bone.
Hey Lake: what's up.
Shen
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514. LakeShadow
4:36 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
colder than what is humanly natural...
but its getting warmer...it 11 degrees now with a wind chill of -8.
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513. Bonedog
11:35 AM EST on January 03, 2008
hey lake. hows things?
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512. LakeShadow
4:33 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
the blog gods need appeasing... We have to sacrifice a troll...

hey bone, wazzup?
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511. Bonedog
11:32 AM EST on January 03, 2008
what the heck.. cant get the image to load grrrrrrrrrrrr
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510. HIEXPRESS
11:20 AM EST on January 03, 2008
Just means there was snow in Florida.

But it was warm snow!
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
509. Bonedog
11:29 AM EST on January 03, 2008
another

<>img
src="https://afweather.afwa.af.mil/images/satellite/SYN_MSG000IR_L.JPG" width="517" height="525" alt="" />
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508. Bonedog
11:19 AM EST on January 03, 2008
shen....

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507. LakeShadow
4:10 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
morning all...

GW and Fla... Rush Limbaugh apparently was going off on this and for some reason, people listen to him. So there's this rumor going around that GW is a big conspiracy...(the jury is still out on our ability to directly impact the climate changes of this planet in such a dramatic fashion, however climate change has been a part of the evolution of our planet since its birth and wont slow down or stop on account of anything we do)

The MELTING of the polar ice creates a cooling of the atmosphere...that cold air is now made it to Fla. It may feel colder, but thats polar ice melt that you feel...
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506. ShenValleyFlyFish
11:11 AM EST on January 03, 2008
Black Sea taking one heck of a pounding. At least 4 deaths from sinking ship more missing. Photos on BBC site awe inspiring. 456 or anyone able to drum up a satellite image of storm?
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505. ShenValleyFlyFish
10:52 AM EST on January 03, 2008
from BBC

Single trader behind oil record


The man behind the record rise in oil prices to $100 a barrel was a lone trader, seeking bragging rights and a minute of fame, market watchers say.

A single trader bid up the price by buying a modest lot and then sold it immediately at a loss, they said.

The New York Mercantile Exchange confirmed that US crude oil futures traded just once in triple figures.

But prices have since remained below that historic level and market analysts questioned the validity of the trade.

More: Link
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504. hondaguy
10:03 AM CST on January 03, 2008
500. vortfix 9:54 AM CST on January 03, 2008
what implications does snow in Florida have on the thoery of Global warming.


Means absolutely nothing.
Just means there was snow in Florida.


Agreeing 100%

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503. TampaSpin
4:02 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
we need 5ft of snow to get us out of the drought.....lol
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502. TampaSpin
4:00 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Happy New Year everyone! Great weather in Tampa 39 now.......lol
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499. Drakoen
3:48 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
lol.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
498. Weather456
3:47 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
496. Tazmanian 3:44 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
485. Weather456 7:00 AM PST on January 03, 2008
pressure now down to 979 mb

where??? off are coast???


456 i will be out for most of the day and wont be back on in tell 3pm my time so caan you keep me update on this storm
Action: | Ignore User


the reading came from a buoy off the coast of Washington near the center of the storm. I will also try to keep u up to date
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
497. Weather456
3:43 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
I don't think we should be talking about that right now though...you know how that turns out.

I'm not looking for a debate about GW, just want to know where ot stands with snow in fl :-)
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
495. Weather456
3:41 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
ok...no problem..thats the same reason i asked too.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
494. Levi32
6:41 AM AKST on January 03, 2008
Well hey, GW can't be that bad if there's still snow in Florida :P I don't think we should be talking about that right now though...you know how that turns out.
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493. Levi32
6:41 AM AKST on January 03, 2008
Lol....stratocumuli in the Caribbean...simply amazing.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
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492. Drakoen
3:36 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
I don't really know too much about that topic, at least not more than the obvious. I stick to more relative meteorlogy.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
491. Weather456
3:32 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Drak,

what implications does snow in Florida have on the thoery of Global warming.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
490. Drakoen
3:31 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
489. Drakoen
3:18 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
There are flurries with temperaures in the low to mid 40s. The key is the 850mb height temperature which is at or below freezing.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
488. Drakoen
3:15 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
They should be very happy for those flurries..
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
487. Bonedog
10:12 AM EST on January 03, 2008
yes Orca NJ gets quite cold. Was 3 degrees this morning with -14 windchills.

Deepest part of the pond is only 18". I live on a mountain and thats how deep it was before I hit the actual bedrock. I basically run the pumps to circulate the water so it wont freeze.

Until today I didnt have an issue other then the ocassional backwash and skimmer cleaning. The pipe burst at a flexable joint my wife said.
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486. HIEXPRESS
10:06 AM EST on January 03, 2008
Here's the flurries In Brevard County
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
485. Weather456
2:56 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
pressure now down to 979 mb
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
484. Weather456
2:55 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Buoy 46005 1350 GMT on 01/03/2008

-7.8 mb ( Falling Rapidly )
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
483. Weather456
2:51 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Storm Number 1 coming in for landing

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
482. Drakoen
2:49 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
947 AM EST THU JAN 3 2008

.DISCUSSION...

...NUMEROUS REPORTS OF SNOW FLURRIES ALONG THE COAST THIS MORNING...
...STILL COLD WITH NOTICEABLE WIND CHILLS TODAY...

CURRENTLY-TODAY...LARGE MASS OF STRATOCU OVER THE COASTAL WATERS LED
TO A FLURRY OF SNOW FLURRIES ALONG THE NORTH HALF OF THE COAST THIS
MORNING.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE FLURRY REPORTS WILL BE CONTAINED IN A PUBLIC
INFORMATION STATEMENT THAT WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS AFTERNOON.
ADDITIONALLY...MEDIA CAN UTILIZE THE MELBOURNE CHAT ROOM FOR MORE
INFORMATION.

THE AIR MASS IS STILL VERY DRY SO EXPECT THE CLOUDS TO GRADUALLY
DIMINISH AS THEY SPREAD INLAND.

MAIN ISSUES FOR A MORNING UPDATE WILL BE THE EFFECT THE CLOUDS WILL
HAVE ON TEMPERATURES...AND WHETHER GRADIENT WILL SUPPORT LAKE WIND
ADVISORY CRITERIA MUCH LONGER. MODELS FORECAST GRADIENT TO
DECREASE BUT BOUNDARY LAYER WINDS ARE FORECAST AROUND 30 KNOTS INTO
THE AFTERNOON...SO WILL ISSUE ONE FOR FOR THE COAST. THE LAST
FLURRY EVENT ON 1/24/03 RESULTED IN COOLER HIGH TEMPERATURES THAN
FORECAST SO WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO TWEAK HIGHS DOWN...ESPECIALLY
ALONG THE COAST WHERE CLOUDS PERSIST.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
481. HurricaneKing
2:43 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Another busted wind forecast. They are calling for north winds between 14 and 16 mph and right now it's howling through the trees at at least 30mph. The only reason that's special today is that the wind chills are going to be a whole lot colder than forecast and I have to go get a chest x-ray. My doctor thinks I have RSV thats trying to become pneumonia.
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480. Orcasystems
2:42 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
476. Bonedog 2:35 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
I live in NJ Orca. I didnt know that about the pumps. When i get home if they are still alive I will put some bricks or something under the pumps to get them off the bottom. Give em a fighting chance if it happens again.


New Jersey is cold isn't it?
Just turn off the pumps until spring if it stays around or below freezing. They do not need them ifs its frozen. They will be in full hibernation.

You might want to bookmark this page.

Link

If your deep part of the pond is 3 feet or so, the chances of the bottom freezing are very slim, so do not worry about the ice crystals in the gills.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
478. Drakoen
2:42 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Those must be some very light Flurries. Not showing up on radar very well.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30607
476. Bonedog
9:34 AM EST on January 03, 2008
I live in NJ Orca. I didnt know that about the pumps. When i get home if they are still alive I will put some bricks or something under the pumps to get them off the bottom. Give em a fighting chance if it happens again.
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474. Bonedog
9:30 AM EST on January 03, 2008
simply amazing
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473. Orcasystems
2:27 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
467. Bonedog 1:59 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
gotcha orca. so basically if they made it just repair the broken line and keep them where they are.

I hope they made it, all were close to 8 inches. Would be a shame to have to restock come spring time and start all over again.
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I don't know where you live, but here in Victoria where it seldom goes below far below freezing, I usually only run one pump to give them air.

You should not run any pumps from the bottom of the pond to the surface, as the bottom of the pond is where the warmer water is. Put your pump at the mid level so it is not disturbing the deeper warm water.

Not to mention, in that position.. it also makes it impossible to drain the pond due to a icing problem.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
472. hurricane23
9:26 AM EST on January 03, 2008
There you have it!

000
NWUS52 KMLB 031412
LSRMLB

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
912 AM EST THU JAN 03 2008

..TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON...
..DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE....
..REMARKS..

0730 AM SNOW DAYTONA BEACH 29.21N 81.03W
01/03/2008 E0.0 INCH VOLUSIA FL BROADCAST MEDIA

SEVERAL REPORTS OF SNOW FLURRIES FROM ORMOND BEACH TO
DAYTONA BEACH AND PORT ORANGE. FIRST FLURRY REPORTS AT
APPROXIMATELY 730 AM IN ORMOND BEACH AND STILL OCCURRING
AS OF 905 AM IN PORT ORANGE. SNOW FLURRY REPORTS WERE
RECEIVED FROM DAYTONA BEACH OBSERVER...SPOTTERS AND VIA
NEWS CHANNEL 13.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
471. franck
2:21 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
Petet
Hope everyone finds a warm place to stay during the storm.
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470. hurricane23
9:20 AM EST on January 03, 2008
464. NEwxguy 8:54 AM EST on January 03, 2008
anyone know of past history of any snowfall in florida?

Here are a few links....

Miami's First snowfall

List of snow events in Florida-WIKI

In 1917 Biscayne Boulevard dropped to 26 degrees.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13839
469. petet
03 01, 2008 14:05 GMT
Storm brings chaos to Black Sea

The situation here is very bad.In Varna(on the Black Sea coast) the winds were 25m/s and they is 50 cm snow and continue to snowing.
The occuled front come in south and that will brings us more snow
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468. hurricane24
1:55 PM GMT on January 03, 2008
look at these:




and then :


*laughs*
and i thought things where gonna look quite nice

the 1st 3 are aw-inspring and then the last is boring and enmbarresing!
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467. Bonedog
8:57 AM EST on January 03, 2008
gotcha orca. so basically if they made it just repair the broken line and keep them where they are.

I hope they made it, all were close to 8 inches. Would be a shame to have to restock come spring time and start all over again.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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