Drought conditions hit Michigan - WNEM TV 5

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Drought conditions hit Michigan

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Rainfall since June 1. Rainfall since June 1.
US Drought Monitor for Michigan, July 7, 2016 US Drought Monitor for Michigan, July 7, 2016
Rainfall so far this year. Rainfall so far this year.
8-14 Day Precip Forecast. 8-14 Day Precip Forecast.
Three Month Precip Outlook. Three Month Precip Outlook.
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

It's official, our abnormally dry summer has now lead to drought conditions in parts of the state. While not to the point where water shortages would become an issue, the dry weather is taking its toll on lawns and crops in the region.

Where we stand:

As of now 68.28 percent of the state is marked as having conditions that are abnormally dry or drier. This is an increase of 36.81 percent from last week and 58.8 percent from this time one year ago. 

Some areas (shown in tan on the Drought Monitor map) are experiencing even drier conditions. These areas are now under a D1 drought classification by the US Drought Monitor and it covers approximately 16.12 percent of the state.

The last time any portion of Michigan was this dry was back in December, when D1 drought conditions were covering portions of southern Michigan. 

What do these numbers mean?:

The US Drought Monitor calculates drought conditions based on a range of different indicies. These are calculated using various precipitation, moisture, soil conditions, and other variables. While this is great for the more data inclined among us, let's break it down into a more tangible form. 

D0 (Abnormally Dry): Abnormally dry regions are areas that may be just going into a drought or coming out of one. Since our region is going into drier conditions you may see a short term dryness slowing the growth of crops and pastures, as well as lawns and domestic plants. 

D1 (Moderate Drought): At this stage we begin to see some damage to crops and pastures. Unwatered plants and lawns may become dry and start to brown. Streams, wells, and other bodies of water start to become low. Some water shortages may develop as well. At this point it is asked that people voluntarily restrict their use of water in order to help conserve the supply, but at this stage it is only a request.

Will it get worse?:

At this time it is difficult to tell. We are expecting beneficial rains to come tonight and Friday, so that should help our deficits. The down side is that we are also expecting some of these rains to come from heavier thunderstorms, meaning a portion of the rainfall will run-off into streams and rivers instead of soaking into the soil. This means not all of the rainfall in the current forecast will help alleviate the drought conditions. 

The good news at this point is the longer term outlooks are looking to bring more rain into the forecast. Rain chances again look to pop up late next week and the longer term outlooks (up to two weeks) are also calling for above average rainfall. 

The downside to this forecast is that the climate predictions for the next 3 months are forecasting equal chances for above or below normal rainfall.

With that in mind we will keep our eyes on the skies and the changing forecast to keep you up to date on any rain chances that do come into the region.

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