RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Unseasonably warm and dry weather in recent months has also come with a price: the lack of significant rainfall. The Red Flag Warnings the first half of this week and six fires burning 20,288 acres in Virginia forests (through April 12, 2012) were certainly a sign of the deteriorating conditions. More than 360 people are responding to these wildfires (in mainly western and southwest Virginia). More than half of the Commonwealth is now "Abnormally Dry" according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released today. In addition, Moderate Drought conditions have developed in the last couple of weeks, worsening particularly since last week's update. Now 10.6% of Virginia is considered to be in the first level of drought, D1-Moderate.
South-central and southeast Virginia in the Tidewater are the first to experience this year's drought. Here is the year-to-date rainfall deficit for the Commonwealth:
This has obviously had an impact on the change in soil moisture, as evidenced by our drying trend much of this year:
This is the latest drought forecast for the country, where you can see drought conditions are expected to continue to our south. This may expand into Virginia if we do not get significant widespread rainfall soon.