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Regional Drought Update Date
February 9, 2021
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Drought Status Update

Southeast Climate Update and Webinar Recap


DEWS Regions:

Next month’s Southeast Monthly Climate Webinar is on Tuesday, March 9 at 10 am ET, with a special presentation on the Spring Flood Outlook. Watch the February 9 webinar recording, and register for upcoming webinars.

Climate Conditions and Seasonal Outlooks

  • January temperatures were near average for the region.
  • January precipitation was variable across the Southeast, with above-average precipitation for eastern North Carolina and below-average precipitation for Alabama and Florida.
  • The U.S. Caribbean had near-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.
  • Severe weather in the region included an EF-3 Tornado in Alabama.
  • La Niña Advisory is still in effect and will continue for winter (95% chance January-March), with a potential transition to neutral during spring (55% chance April-June).
  • Looking ahead: The next 6-10 days have an active pattern with the probability of colder temperatures (warmer for Florida) and wetter conditions for the Southeast. Spring will be warm with the southern part of the Southeast likely to be dry.  
Current Conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor Conditions: Southeast | February 2, 2021

Current U.S. Drought Monitor map for the Southeast with data valid for February 2, 2020. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts’ assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year. 

Moderated Drought (D1) is present in Alabama and Puerto Rico. Pockets of Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions remain in other parts of the region.

U.S. Drought Monitor Categories

The color with the hex code #ffff00 identifies:
D0 - Abnormally Dry
The color with the hex code #ffcc99 identifies:
D1 - Moderate Drought
The color with the hex code #ff6600 identifies:
D2 - Severe Drought
The color with the hex code #ff0000 identifies:
D3 - Extreme Drought
The color with the hex code identifies:
D4 - Exceptional Drought
Source(s):

NDMCNOAAUSDA

Last Updated  -  02/02/21
Main Stats
20.8%
of the Southeast DEWS is experiencing Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions
1.1%
of the Southeast DEWS is experiencing Moderate Drought (D1)
95%
chance of La Niña continuing through winter (January-March)

Drought

  • Short-term Moderate Drought (D1) is present in Alabama and Puerto Rico, and Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions are present in Florida with a few pockets elsewhere.
  • Looking ahead: There is possible drought development in southern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and all of Florida.

Water Resources and Flooding 

  • Streamflows remain above normal across the Carolinas and near normal for Florida and Georgia, with near-normal to below-normal conditions across Alabama.
  • Looking ahead: The streamflow forecast shows more of the same for February but is trending to near normal across the entire Southeast by March and April.

Agriculture Impact and Outlook 

  • Recent wet conditions have hindered field preparation and caused problems for pastures in the Carolinas and Virginia.
  • Adverse weather conditions have caused disease issues for strawberries, melons, and vegetables.
  • Chill hours should be sufficient for most fruit varieties.
  • Looking ahead: It has not been a typical La Niña so far, but it may return to a typical drier pattern later in the winter.

Spotlight: 2020 in Review

  • 2020 was a year of extremes across the U.S. and the Southeast.
  • 2020 was the second warmest year for the Southeast. Minimum temperatures were record warm.
  • 2020 was the third wettest year for the Southeast, with an active storm track over the Southeast for much of the year.
  • Drought impacted mostly Florida during spring and early summer. Puerto Rico had summer drought.
  • Four tropical cyclones made landfall across the Southeast (Tropical Storm Bertha, Hurricane Isaias, Hurricane Sally, and Tropical Storm Eta).
  • The tornado outbreak of April 12-13 was the most prominent of the year. Strong tornadoes swept through Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
  • 14 billion-dollar disasters impacted the Southeast – 9 severe weather events and 5 tropical cyclones, totaling $37.7 billion (~40% of the total cost for all U.S. disasters in 2020).
  • Useful links from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI):

What Happened: Southeast Temperature

Temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from January 10 to February 8, 2021. January temperatures were near average for the region.
A look at temperature departures from normal across the Southeast from January 10 to February 8, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

What Happened: Southeast Precipitation 

Precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast from January 10 to February 8, 2021. Shows varied precipitation across the Southeast, with above-normal precipitation for eastern North Carolina and below-normal precipitation for Alabama and Florida.
A look at precipitation departures from normal across the Southeast from January 10 to February 8, 2021. Source: High Plains Regional Climate Center.

Current Conditions: River Flood Status

Map of the Southeast showing river flood conditions as of February 9, 2021.
A look at current river flood conditions. Valid as of February 9, 2021. Streamflows remain above normal across the Carolinas and near normal for Florida and Georgia, with near-normal to below-normal conditions across Alabama. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Streamflow Forecast

Streamflow forecast map of the Southeast. Above-normal streamflow will continue into February for North Carolina and the coastal plain rivers of South Carolina. Streamflow is predicted to remain near normal for most other areas.
Streamflow forecast is more of the same for February (above) but trending to near normal across the entire Southeast by March and April. Source: National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center.

Looking Ahead: Seasonal Outlooks

February to April 2021 temperature outlook for the U.S., from Climate.gov with data from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Show a greater probability of above-normal temperatures across the Southeast.
NOAA three-month temperature outlook for February to April 2021. Source: Climate.gov, with data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.
February to April 2021 precipitation outlook for the U.S., from Climate.gov with data from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. There is a greater probability of below-normal precipitation across Florida and southern parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Other areas in the Southeast have equal chances of above, below, or normal precipitation.
NOAA three-month precipitation outlook for February to April 2021. Source: Climate.gov, with data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for January 21 to April 30, 2021 from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Shows that drought development is more likely across Florida and southern parts of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, January 21 to April 30, 2021. Source: National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

Acknowledgments 

Webinar Speakers

  • Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center
  • Jeff Dobur, National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center
  • Pam Knox, University of Georgia
  • Karin Gleason, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
  • Kelsey Satalino, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)

Relevant Regional Resources

Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC) [website currently under construction]

NWS Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC)

Streamflow Monitoring & Forecasting

NWS Climate Prediction Center, Outlook Products

Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast - Blog

ACIS Climate Maps, High Plains Regional Climate Center

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO):

Special Thanks

The Southeast Climate Monthly Webinar series is held on the second Tuesday of each month at 10 am ET. This series is hosted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, in partnership with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the NOAA National Weather Service. These webinars provide the region with timely information on current and developing climate conditions, such as drought, floods, and tropical storms, as well as climatic events like El Niño and La Niña. Speakers may also discuss the impacts of these conditions on topics such as agriculture production, water resources, wildfires, and ecosystems.

For webinar-related questions or suggestions, please contact Meredith Muth, NOAA/NIDIS, meredith.f.muth@noaa.gov.