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    Rain Needed in the East

    By By Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist
    April 21, 2012, 11:58:17 PM EDT

    A lack of rain, little winter snow, warm weather and wind are causing stream levels to crash and topsoil to dry out in the East.

    As the sun climbs higher in the sky, lengthening daylight and increased energy from the sun typically raise evaporation rates this time of the year.

    Generally this is not a problem, since the ground is usually very moist from recent storms over the winter and frequent rounds of showers moving forward into the spring.

    According to AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Many areas in the East have only received between 10 and 20 percent of their normal rainfall over the past 30 days."

    Windy weather, combined with above-average temperatures and low humidity of late have also been zapping the soil of moisture and raising wildfire concerns.

    Harrisburg, Columbia Flood Comparison Photos

    While a long-term drought is necessary to greatly impact reservoirs and well levels, the dry spell has had some impact on streams and rivers.

    According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), many streams and rivers in Pennsylvania and other states in the East were experiencing flow rates of one-third or less of normal volume for April 16.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are monitoring the progress of a potential storm for this coming weekend.


    While many folks with outdoor interests would not want such a storm to hit on their weekend it is, of course, out of our hands.

    The storm could coincide with a dip in the jet stream that may capture and cause the storm to stall over the region for days with rounds of cool rain and thunderstorms.

    A storm of such caliber could easily unleash from one to several inches of rain, if it were to develop to its full potential. Similar circumstances in the past have also produced pockets of wet snow over the mountains this late in the season.

    While the timing of the storm would be arguably lousy, rainfall from such a storm is just what most eastern areas of the nation need.

    According to AccuWeather.com Long-Range Expert Paul Pastelok, "Part of the Northeast should see fairly frequent opportunities for rain over the next month or so."

    Pastelok points toward a forecast trough in the jet stream setting up over the Midwest. This would allow moisture from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico to yield a few rounds of showers and thunderstorms.

    "Portions of northern New England and part of the southern Atlantic Seaboard, including Florida, may miss out of the moist flow, however," Pastelok said.

    While lower-than-normal stream levels are a big strike against river flooding in the short term, there can still be isolated incidents of flash and urban flooding, with little notice, regardless of the dry state of the ground and trickling stream flows.

    If the abnormally dry conditions progress through worsening drought, more serious consequences could await residents of the region in the months ahead.


    Portions of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama are already experiencing extreme to exceptional drought.

    This story was originally published Monday, April 16, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

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