With no end in sight for the heat and the dry weather, our primary concerns now shift to the worsening drought and its potential impacts. Today's update from the US Drought Monitor shows that the drought has expanded significantly in the past week. Just 12 percent of north Alabama was in a moderate drought last week, largely over Sand Mountain. Today, over half of north Alabama is now in a moderate drought, expanding to now include Madison County, Limestone County, parts of Lawrence and Lauderdale Counties, as well as Marshall County. Areas over Sand Mountain that were already in a Moderate Drought now find themselves in a Severe Drought. Let's dive in to exactly what it means to be in a Moderate or Severe Drought.
Moderate Drought (including Huntsville, Athens, Moulton, and Guntersville)
--Crop growth and yield low
--Smaller waterways (streams, ponds, etc.) at low water levels
--Burn bans go into effect
--Fire activity increases
Severe Drought (including Scottsboro)
--Damage to crops
--Larger waterways (lakes, rivers, etc.) at low water levels
--Burn bans continue
Here are the latest impacts on this ongoing drought for our area and the rest of north Alabama.
--Farmers are now supplementing feed and purchasing hay early
--Corn and soybean harvests are greatly reduced
--Across all of Alabama, 180 fires have been reported in the last week
--Almost all of north Alabama remains abnormally dry including areas that are not currently in a Moderate or Severe Drought
Unfortunately, the drought conditions and its impacts will worsen before they get better. Most areas stay dry for the next seven days and likely beyond that, with only a small chance for an isolated shower or storm each afternoon. We also have the potential to see numerous record highs broken in the days ahead. Today, Huntsville, hit a record high of 95, breaking the record for September 26 of 94 set back in 1933. This record breaking heat also likely means September ends as one of the hottest of all time across north Alabama. Currently, we are on pace for the third hottest September of all time in Huntsville and the second hottest all time in Muscle Shoals. Highs for the next seven days will top out in the mid 90s each day, continuing that August feel as we inch closer to the start of October.