Playing precip catch-up, once again

3:36 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
Scenes like this, from Laurel MD, became less frequent as summer came to a close.
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I'm starting to hear people around the DC Metro saying that familiar refrain again... "we need the rain". It seems like we're always in need of Mother Nature's watering can, doesn't it? Last year, we were especially parched, but 2013 has done a decent job of making up for it so far. The summer of 2013 was unusually wet; while not exactly soggy, we did record above-average rainfall through the period defined as meteorological summer (the months of June, July and August). Rainfall was slightly above average in July (0.7" above), but the surplus can be owed almost entirely to June. We got 9.97" of rain, which is about 164% of our average precipitation for that month. 

While August was much drier than average, with 1.59" less rain than in a typical August, it was a month with frequent unsettled weather. We recorded at least a trace of precipitation at Reagan National on 14 days in August, which means that it rained on almost half the days of the month. In July, it rained on 17 of the month's 31 days. 

Now here we are in late September, with our year-to-date (YTD) precipitation of 28.67". By Friday, we will once again be lagging behind in precipitation for the year. After such a wet summer, how is this possible? 

The summer season was playing catch-up after a prolonged dry period. In the first five months of 2013, DCA recorded below-average precipitation. From January through May, the precip deficit cumulatively added up to 3.38". We made up for this deficit during the soggy month of June and then some, ending the month almost three inches above average. As I mentioned earlier, July was also a bit wetter than average, but certainly not as soggy as June. 

The past 2 months have been dry again, bringing us to our current situation. I would argue that, if there was a time of year you would want dry weather, this has to be it! First of all, the crops have pretty much stopped growing. It's getting close to harvest time, and in fact, some farmers are already clearing their fields. At least they're not having to deal with rain dampening their crops, and they're not sweltering in the heat and humidity, either! Which brings me to my other point... these temperatures are ideal for getting outside! Our average high is in the upper 70s, and it would be a shame to waste those nice temperatures on a rainy day. Finally, dry and sunny fall days can really help the colors pop in our local deciduous trees, and it's hard to enjoy the fall foliage when it's raining! So, while I agree that we need the rain to stay on pace for the yearly total, I'm going to enjoy this sunny autumn break, and hope for wetter weather later this year.