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Area no longer in drought, but remains dry

Lingering drought conditions around the state and Dayton region that raised concerns about the 2013 growing season are showing signs of improvement with more rainfall in the past two months.

Only a small part of Southwest and Northwest Ohio are in the category of “abnormally dry,” about 11.5 percent of the state.

“It’s been raining and we are grateful for that,” Steve Maurer, state director for the USDA Farm Service Agency, said. “It’s most important to go into spring with sufficient soil moisture.”

Still, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook from the federal Climate Prediction Center said drought will persist over a large portion of the U.S. through April 30 but improve in Ohio as well as most of Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Abnormally dry is technically not a drought, but a status that means that if the area has another prolonged dry stretch, we’ll go back into drought, WHIO-TV Chief meteorologist Jamie Simpson said.

Simpson said January will end up about a half inch above average for precipitation and December was 0.65 of an inch above average. November was 2.6 inches below average and October was 0.88 of an inch above average

The area still has quite a way to go to catch up. By the end of 2012, the year was about 8.5-inches below average precipitation, Simpson said.

“That’s why I am so surprised we are still not in drought,” Simpson said. “When I looked at the past drought monitor maps it was revealed that we came out of drought just this week.”

Today, the forecast is for snow and a high near 26. New snow accumulation could be from 1 to 3 inches. Another inch of snow could fall on Sunday with a high near 27.

The Climate Prediction Center said that during the upcoming three months, a much drier pattern is expected across the southern third of the nation from central California to the eastern Gulf Coast.

But with probabilities of more precipitation and lower than normal temperatures across the northern U.S., from the northern Rockies eastward to the upper Midwest and into the western Corn Belt, odds are better for drought improvement.

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