Southeast Drought Relief

A moisture-rich SSW feed from the Gulf of Mexico and an embedded disturbance delivered 1.2 inches from late morning through early afternoon today. Tropical showers with rumbles of thunder entertained us from time to time. Our lake is now at full pool, a good three to four feet higher than the disturbingly low level that persisted during the late summer through mid-November, when dormant season rains began in earnest.

Since those first welcome soaking rains, I’ve measured 20.9 inches, a bit above the long term average of ~18 inches for the period. Our northern Alabama relief has come with only one or two episodes of what I’ll refer to as excess rainfall. That is, rainfall rates and amounts sufficient to trigger flash flood statements and actual damage, albeit limited. In contrast, California’s drought-busting storms have triggered extensive flooding. We have been blessed with relief generally without negative consequence. I am pleased to see area streams at seasonal flow, ground water recharging, and the stage set for the growing season ahead. Nature’s abundance lifts my spirits and improves my outlook.

An Interesting Forecast

We’ve returned to the southeast, so we know to anticipate active spring cold fronts, frequently accompanied by serious storms. As I draft this blog, late afternoon on the final day of February, the National Weather Service forecast diagnostics include some provocative language:

  • “a potent full latitude trough shifts east from the Southern Plains to the eastern half of the country”
  • “will become more important by early Wednesday [tomorrow] morning through Wednesday afternoon”
  • continuing “strong warm air advection”
  • toward morning a “strong low level jet developing ahead of the trough”
  • “surface-based deep convection to develop”
  • “discrete cells will move within a conditionally unstable environment and develop from upstream pre-frontal convective outflow boundaries,” with some of “these discrete cells to exhibit rotating updrafts”
  • “point toward damaging winds up to 70 miles per hour and large hail”
  • “tornadoes may also occur”

Although I do not fully comprehend all of the NWS lingo, I am a lay student of meteorology and can appreciate that these parameters set the stage for some rough weather. I will stay tuned and remain attentive as the situation develops tomorrow. Nature fascinates me. We live on a planet with a dynamic atmosphere, its Troposphere churning and stirring constantly. We are entering a season typified by battling air masses here in the Southeast. Summer will win the war, yet fierce battles will be staged as winter thrusts its cold air south time and again between now and early May. Tomorrow will not be the last time battle lines are drawn across northern Alabama. I will enjoy watching the drama unfold, ever-conscious that there can be real casualties. Ever-aware of the need to seek shelter if necessary.

Nature frequently humbles and inspires. Nature is an exquisite teacher. A day does not go by that I do not learn yet a little more by observing her patterns and processes. Potentially severe and damaging conditions and circumstances buffet our lives and enterprises occasionally. We deal with and react to them effectively only when we understand, and especially when we anticipate and prepare in advance.

Great Blue Heron urges individuals and enterprises to learn from Nature even as she Inspires all that we do.