Rain brings needed relief; more possible

Last Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor released their latest update which showed that parts of the Miami Valley had gone into severe drought.

Rainfall deficits had soared to over 3 inches below normal in Dayton with parts of the northern Miami Valley over 6 inches below normal. But the weekend brought some much needed relief with nearly 3 inches of rain falling in some areas north of Interstate 70. More rain fell on Monday adding to the totals.

While the rain put a decent dent into the drought, deficits still remain and it will likely take several more storm systems to catch up. We will get another update from the drought monitor Thursday, however it appears we will see improvements in many areas.

For those that still need rain, there is some good news over the next six to 10 days as more beneficial rain could be coming. While we will get a break from the rain later this week, it appears a high pressure system off the East Coast of the United States will continue to feed in tropical moisture across the eastern half of the country. Some of the rain will likely make it to the more moisture starved areas of Ohio and eastern Great Lakes.

On a side note, I have gotten some questions about The Old Farmers Almanac winter outlook that was released over the weekend. It is calling for a wet and mild winter with lower than average snowfall. While they apparently use “secret forecasting methods”, I can tell you that La Nina will likely dominate the weather in this part of the country. There will be a couple of things that meteorologists will be watching for over the next few months.

The first, key ingredient may be already setting up in the northeastern Pacific Ocean where water temperatures are currently running well above average. Since the atmosphere and oceans work in conjunction to impact our weather, this will be something we will watch closely. It is likely these warmer water temperatures will allow for a warm autumn, and a more moderate start to winter, keeping colder air from invading the pacific northwest. This could lead to less or shorter intrusions of colder, arctic air into the northern U.S. However, early to mid-winter could see colder periods with a milder second half of winter. The last La Nina year recorded in Ohio was the winter of 2011 to 2012.

The other factor is whether the Pacific jet stream can pump moisture into the pattern during the winter. A La Nina pattern typically means after a dry autumn, winter becomes increasingly wet. Typical La Nina patterns usually see farther north storm tracks, pulling warmer air into the southern Ohio Valley. This usually leads to more rain than snow. The real concern could come later in the spring of 2017. Typically, the spring after a La Nina winter has a history of more severe storms.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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