Moderate drought designation extends into southern West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Almost all of southern West Virginia is now considered to be in a “moderate drought” for the close of September, according to an update on conditions from the National Weather Service.

“Basically, it’s the beginnings of a drought,” John Sikora, a Charleston NWS hydrometeorologist, of the designation.

It followed a prolonged period of high temperatures, recorded at well above normal levels, without significant rain.

“When we haven’t rain for a long period of time, or very little rain in a long period of time, the soils start to dry out, the stream flows start to get really low and the vegetation starts to stress.”

That was the case in areas located roughly along and south of Interstate 64.

In an update released Thursday, counties in northern West Virginia were classified as “abnormally dry.”

In the “moderate drought” areas, “Some counties might want to consider some water conservation, but it’s not really mandatory at this point,” Sikora said.

That could change if drought conditions continue to worsen and the “moderate drought” designation is revised to what’s considered “severe drought,” “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought” on the NWS scale.

It’s been 1999 since West Virginia last saw emergency drought conditions, NWS records indicated.

“Right now, things are still okay, just things are getting a little stressed and some streams are starting to dry out,” Sikora said on Friday.

Some showers and thunderstorms were possible in parts of West Virginia on Saturday afternoon into the evening.

However, Sikora told MetroNews it would take two to three inches of rain, at least, to return conditions to normal for the time of the year.

Additionally, daytime high temperatures were expected to climb to 15 to 20 degrees above normal through the middle of next week as high pressure continued to push any storm systems moving west up into Canada.

“This pattern is going to start breaking up later next week into the first couple of weeks of October and, hopefully, we’ll start seeing some relief in the dryness,” Sikora said.

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