Drought conditions gone in county, for now

Published 2:46 am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Isaac may not have reared its head much in Covington County, but the recent rains, including the 0.28 inches that came in the last three days from Isaac’s bands, have brought the county out of a drought.

In August, Covington County received 4.96 inches of rain, according to data collected by the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow River Watershed Management Authority. Records also show that 32.81 inches or rain have fallen from January through August, which is up from 28.04 inches at the same period last year.

The weekly report that is released by the U.S. Drought Monitor has Covington County in the clear.

And that’s good news.

In July, Gov. Robert Bentley and Agriculture Commission John McMillan declared a federal drought emergency for 33 Alabama counties, including Covington County.

Statistics from the U.S. Drought Monitor show that Covington County has made significant improvements since April in drought conditions.

In July, the entire county was under abnormally dry conditions, compared to April when the county was split nearly evenly with the northern portion that was experiencing an extreme drought, while the southern half, experienced a severe drought.

State Climatologist Dr. John Christy said that August brought some cooler weather than slowed the drying process.

“Unfortunately, the intense heat and dryness form the ‘flash drought’ of mid-June to early-July basically destroyed the non-irrigated corn crop,” he said. “Once that happens, more rain doesn’t help that crop. Cotton and soybeans are a bit more resilient and aren’t as sensitive to short hot and dry spells and are doing better.

“Local streams have responded to the recent rain and cool weather, but the main-stem rivers with headwaters in western Georgia are very low because the drought is still strong there,” Christy said. “The outlook is always murky. There is a hint that the waters in the central tropical Pacific Ocean will warm enough to bring on an El Nino pattern for the winter.”

Christy said in the pattern, south Alabama usually has cooler and wetter conditions into early spring.