Published on 06/30/99

Extreme to Severe Drought Persists Despite Recent Rains

Precipitation (inches), Jan-1 to Jun-29
Deviation from Normal (1961-1990)

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Source: Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network
(For full-size map, click here.)

ATHENS, Ga. -- Despite recent rains, extreme drought conditions returned to central Georgia last week. The southern third of the state is still in severe drought. The rest of the state, except the northwest, is having mild to moderate drought.

Conditions are near normal in the northwest.

Regions in severe to extreme drought need 8.5 to 10 inches of rain to end the drought.

Total rainfall for June 22-28 ranged from 0.51 inches at Statesboro to 4.93 inches at Pine Mountain. Many stations reported more than 1.5 inches during the week. However, rainfall in central Georgia was generally less than an inch.

Moisture Short in One-third of State Soils

Weekly rainfall totals include 0.74 inches at Dearing, 0.96 at Dublin, 0.71 at Midville, 0.51 at Statesboro and 0.52 at Vidalia. More than 3 inches was reported at Alma, Arlington, Dawson, Dixie, Pine Mountain, Savannah and Watkinsville.

The Georgia Agricultural Statistical Service reports that moisture is short to very short in 33 percent of the state's soils. Nearly two-thirds -- 61 percent -- of the soils have enough moisture for current needs.

The cotton, peanut and soybean crops improved with the recent rains.

The combined soil moisture loss through evaporation and transpiration (called evapotranspiration) was low last week. Only Calhoun, Midville, Savannah and Vidalia reported more than an inch of total loss of moisture.

Evapotranspiration Will Increase

With the return to temperatures in the middle to upper 90s expected by the Fourth of July weekend, soil moisture loss through evapotranspiration will increase. It will exceed 1.5 inches this week if temperatures reach the 90s.

While recent rains have brought helpful moisture to most of Georgia, the drought is still a concern, especially in the main farming regions.

Even with recent rains, plants under stress don't have a large soil moisture reserve. A hot week in the middle to upper 90s with little rain will quickly dry out the soils. Crops will then return to stress conditions.

For More Information

You can read daily updates on the drought at the University of Georgia drought Web site (www.griffin. Or contact your county extension agent.

Rainfall data is from the UGA Automated Environmental Monitoring Network. Drought conditions are based on the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which is calculated by the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.