Pleasant fall weather reinforces near-drought

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sunny, mild days and fair, cool nights have been the rule since a cold front came through last Thursday night, nearly perfect for those who enjoy early fall.

The only reason to complain about the weather is that the beautiful blue skies have done nothing to reverse our slide into drought.

Last week isolated showers popped up over a few lucky locations in Pearl River County on Monday, Tuesday, and then again on Thursday evening when the cold front passed through. But those showers were short-lived and provided only a trace to less than one-tenth of an inch of rain.

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Over the 37 days from September 18th through today, total rainfall across the county has ranged from a little over one-half inch to less than one-tenth of an inch. Those data are from four rain gauge stations that report through the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network ( and the observations of the Poplarville Experiment Station, which reports through the Iowa Environmental Mesonet (

Last Thursday’s Drought Monitor map from the National Drought Mitigation Center ( shows that we are abnormally dry. Given the sparse rainfall over the past week, this week’s analysis almost certainly will place us in drought status.

The Drought Monitor has shown most of the rest of the state in drought for at least two weeks already.

What that means for most of us is that we should delay any outdoor burning, if at all possible. As of this writing on Monday morning, Pearl River County is not under a formal burn ban, but that could change soon.

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission over 75 percent of the counties in the state are under a burn ban because of extremely dry conditions.

Fortunately, there is a chance of showers on Wednesday, Wednesday night, and Thursday. Unfortunately, it is only about a twenty percent chance, which means there is about an eighty percent chance that we won’t see any rain.

If a few showers do develop, it will be because the ingredients are provided by a surface ridge of high pressure situated along the East Coast and an upper level low pressure trough moving westward and stretching from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf Coast.

The clockwise circulation around the East Coast ridge of high pressure will cause our surface winds to blow from the east and southeast bringing in higher humidity from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

As the upper level trough of low pressure approaches and passes overhead on Wednesday and Thursday it will cause rising motion in the lower atmosphere, lifting the moisture in the lower levels upward to form more clouds and possibly rain showers.

Any showers that do form will be light. The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center estimates that, if we receive any rain on Wednesday and Thursday, it will total one-quarter of an inch or less.

Temperatures will gradually warm this week.

Highs will reach the lower to middle 80s. Wednesday morning’s lows will be in the 50s, but overnight lows the rest of the week will be mostly in the 60s with a few upper 50s.

By Skip Rigney