Dry weather is ‘definitely a problem’

Published 7:44 pm Monday, April 2, 2007

Local farmers and hortoculturalists are really beginning to understand the concept of a parched earth.

Before this weekend’s rain showers, the Miss-Lou had been without precipitation for nearly a month. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Drought Monitor reports most of the Miss-Lou is considered to be abnormally dry, with large portions of Mississippi already listed as being in a moderate drought.

“It’s definitely a problem,” Adams County County Director of the MSU Extension Service David Carter said. “We had so much rain in January and February that it’s helped us into March, but if we don’t get some soon, it’s going to get worse.

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“Your soil conditions are going to dry up, and a lot of people are going to have to use irrigation.”

This lack of rain has already affected local agriculture.

“It’s extremely dry, and some folks are having to stop planting,” Concordia Parish Agent with the LSU AgCenter Glen Daniels said.

“You’re teetering right on the edge of drought in your area,” Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim said.

“Drought is defined by different perspectives,” Mississippi State Professor of Geography and State Climatologist Charles Wax said. “To meteorologists, climatologists, and farmers, this situation qualifies as a drought — we are below the expected amount of precipitation and there is not enough moisture to allow healthy growth of plants.”

“Concordia Parish’s year-to-date rainfall has been 8.22 inches,” Keim said. “Normal rainfall for that area is 17.55 inches.”

“You’re deficient by about nine inches of rain.”

Adams County is faced with the same problem.

“Statewide over the last four weeks we have had about 0.5 inches of rain — that should more characteristically be about 5.0 inches,” Wax said.

This uncharacteristicly dry weather pattern is worsening, and though the month of March has been dry, the last two weeks have been especially so, Keim said.

These weather patterns are part of a larger trend that encompasses the last two years.

“Hurricanes Katrina and Rita gave us a big dump of precipitation, but after that, things went right back to the way they were.”

A return to normal patterns of precipitation will solve the problem, Wax said.

“The chances that this lack of average precipitation will break are very good,” Wax said.

The months of March, April and May normally deliver a large amount of rain, and if the weather reverts to normal patterns, the moisture delivered will be enough to provide relief, Wax said.