A look around Central North Carolina will show that since Dorian, we have been very dry. In fact, Raleigh-Durham International Aiport has just over an inch of rain this month, well shy of the almost three and a half inches we should have at this point in September.
Normally, the fall and winter seasons are some of the driest in Raleigh with average monthly rainfall amounts of about three inches. September can be feast or famine depending on how many tropical systems we see and the amount of rain they bring to the area.
Our recent dry weather, for at least those along and west of US-1, has led to abnormally dry conditions, the first level on the drought monitor issued by the National Drought Mitigation Center. There are a couple of factors that have led to our recent dry pattern, and the pattern doesn’t look to change anytime soon.
There are two major things that usually impact drought conditions – lack of rain and warm temperatures. With warm temperatures, especially well above normal like we have been seeing, the warm air drys out the top layers of the soil to make dry conditions worse. You couple dry conditions with warm temperatures, and you get a negative feedback process that can make it worse.
Looking forward, a ridge of high pressure that promotes sinking air and doesn’t allow for much rain is forecast to remain over most of the southeast for at least another week or two, which means rain chances will be few and far between. The Climate Prediction Center gives us chances at seeing above average temperatures and below normal rainfall through the first full week of October.
All of this drying means that wildfire concerns will only get worse through the next week or two with little relief for our drying soils. Use caution with any outdoor flames, including cigarettes and grills, and make sure any chains attached to vehicles moving on asphalt are suspended above the road to avoid causing sparks that may lead to brush fires.
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