Another Round of Rain Will Soak the South's Flash Drought Late Week into the Weekend

Brian Donegan
Published: October 23, 2019

A flash drought developed in the South this fall, but another round of rain will soak the region later this week following early week showers and storms and Tropical Storm Nestor's rains last weekend, helping to put a dent in this drought.

You may think of droughts as slowly evolving weather phenomena. But some droughts, known as flash droughts, can develop much faster, taking weeks to a few months rather than years, leaving less time to prepare for impacts such as crop losses, reductions in water supply and increased wildfire risk.

Drier than average conditions since summer have caused severe drought to develop in several Southern states. Severe drought is the third-worst of five drought categories, ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. Extreme drought, the second-worst of the five categories, has also developed in some parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and the Florida Panhandle.

U.S. Drought Monitor valid Oct. 15, 2019, before the rains from Tropical Storm Nestor soaked the Southeast.
(The National Drought Mitigation Center)

Jason Otkin, a drought researcher at the University of Wisconsin, said he uses at least a two-category worsening in the U.S. Drought Monitor over a four-week period or a three-category intensification over an eight-week period as criteria for a flash drought.

In this case, there was a three- to four-category degradation in drought conditions in parts of northern Georgia between early September and early October. Much of the Tennessee Valley, Florida Panhandle, southern Arkansas and the central Appalachians saw a two- or three-category degradation in the same period.

A strong low-pressure system and its associated cold front brought showers and thunderstorms to parts of the South Monday and Tuesday.

After a dry midweek, a new weather system will dive into the South late this week. Showers and thunderstorms could develop in parts of the South as soon as Thursday night, with periods of rain continuing through the weekend.


Rainfall Outlook Through Sunday

It's uncertain what areas in the South will see the most significant soaking from this next storm system. This includes areas from Texas to the Carolinas.

There could be heavy rain at times late this week, which could lead to more flash flood concerns while also putting a deeper dent in the South's flash drought.

A broad area from parts of Texas into the Southeast has the potential to receive over an inch of rain through this weekend.

(MAPS: 7-Day Forecast Highs and Weather

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.