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Have Recent Rains Helped with Drought?

Isolated recent rains have helped on a local level, but much of the Mid-South remains in a severe or extreme drought.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Rain in the Mid-South has been a sight for sore eyes. Periods of rain have hit the Mid-South for five days straight. The last time the area saw consecutive days of rainfall was in mid-June and even then, amounts were around an inch of rain.

Much of the area is in a severe drought with northwest Tennessee and most of Arkansas in an extreme drought. Experts say the recent rain hasn’t helped the widespread drought very much at all.

Arkansas has been hit the hardest by dry weather. Governor Beebe asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to declare 75 Arkansas counties disasters from the drought. Currently, 88 percent of the state is in a severe drought and 36 percent of Arkansas is in an extreme drought.

National Weather Service meteorologists say the rain will help on a local level with homeowners trying to keep their lawns watered, but that it might be too little too late for farmers. West Memphis received over 2 inches of rain Tuesday while the Memphis Airport only received around one inch. The sporadic nature of the recent rain isn’t enough to cure the widespread drought.

John Sirmon, NWS Meteorologist, says, "A tropical system moving this way would help. We really need a prolonged period of normal or above normal precipitation to start to make an impact.”

Climate data suggests that on a normal day, the Mid-South should receive 0.15 inches of rain. The Mid-South would need 0.15 inches of rain every day for a month straight to climb out of the drought.

Here is some perspective on what a difference a year makes. In July 2011, the Mid-South was four inches above normal rainfall for the year. Currently the Mid-South is more than fourteen inches of rain below normal since the start of the year.

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