Suffolk enters drought, but rain on the way

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, October 17, 2019

The potential Tropical Storm Nestor was still working on getting organized in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday evening, but the National Hurricane Center predicts it may bring wind and rain to Hampton Roads over the weekend, helping to relieve drought conditions across the area.

“It’s going to move quickly northeast and should pass through the Southeast states over the weekend,” said Jonathan McGee, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Wakefield. “They do anticipate it to become a tropical storm, and that would occur sometime between later (Thursday and Friday).”

The storm began forming as the latest Drought Monitor map was released Thursday, showing most of Suffolk has progressed from abnormally dry conditions and has now entered moderate drought. The entire state now ranges from abnormally dry to severe drought conditions.

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McGee said rainfall from the storm could range from 1 to 2 inches in Suffolk, but any changes in its track would bring more or less rain.

“The closer you are to the center of the storm, the more rain you could potentially get,” he said. “If the track comes a little farther north, there would be more rainfall potential.”

Some wind will come with the storm, too — probably about 20 to 30 miles per hour, McGee said. It will likely come through Suffolk late Saturday through midday Sunday.

The rain from the storm, plus a cold front coming in Tuesday, should help return Suffolk to normal rainfall conditions.

“For now, it’s looking optimistic as far as getting beneficial rain this weekend and early next week,” McGee said. “The longer-term trends would indicate the drought conditions should continue to improve.”

McGee said the area has received about 2 to 4 inches of precipitation below normal since the beginning of August. Moderate drought typically causes stressed trees and grass, increased potential for wildfires and other issues.

Rainfall on Wednesday helped, “but we’re still well below where we need to be to get us back to what we consider normal,” McGee said. “We would need to get a couple more 1- to 2-inch events to get back to normal and curtail the drought conditions.”