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Area still is ‘abnormally dry’
Plants, crops not in danger yet
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A hibiscus flower is shown Wednesday under sunny skies in Martinsville. The trend toward warm weather is expected to continue today under mostly sunny skies with a 30 percent chance of rain. Today’s high is expected to reach 89 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low of 68, according to the National Weather Service. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, September 5, 2014


The area remains drier than normal for this time of the year, but plants and crops so far have not suffered much, according to an expert.

“We’re not seeing anything drastic yet,” said Travis Bunn, Patrick County’s Virginia Cooperative Extension agent.

Melanie Barrow, the agent for Henry County and Martinsville, could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed Henry County-Martinsville, southwestern Pittsylvania County and parts of eastern Patrick County and southern Franklin County to be “abnormally dry.”

Portions of southwestern and eastern Virginia, as well as the Shenandoah Valley and Delmarva Peninsula, also were shown by the drought monitor as being abnormally dry — the first stage of a drought, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

Other parts of the state — including most of Patrick County — were shown as having had normal precipitation.

The drought monitor, which maps levels of wetness nationwide, is updated each Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Drought Mitigation Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The weather service takes official rainfall measurements for all of southern Virginia at the Danville Regional Airport. The measurements show that as of Thursday afternoon, 29.75 inches of rain had fallen across the region since Jan. 1, less than the average of 30.7 inches for this time of the year.

However, measurements taken at Martinsville’s water filtration plant show that 23.89 inches of rain had fallen there so far this year.

Last year at this time, weather service data showed the region had seen 41.52 inches of rain while the filtration plant had recorded 36.87 inches.

Bunn said he has noticed some pasture land “getting crispy dry.” That is not uncommon because pastures usually are not irrigated, he said.

Farmers are irrigating vegetative plants, but that is “standard practice” in dry conditions, Bunn added.

He said the weather seems to be getting into a wetter pattern, so “I think (the dryness) is going to start easing up now.”

The weather service’s forecast is calling for chances of showers and storms as high as 60 percent practically daily through Thursday.

By then, “it’s very possible” that the area could get enough rain to end the dryness, said Peter Corrigan, the hydrologist at the weather service office in Blacksburg.

But amid weather patterns at this time of the year, “we get a lot of hit or miss shower activity,” Corrigan said. One place could see a lot of rain while another place not far away gets little to none.

He noted, for example, that Caswell County, N.C., which borders Pittsylvania, received about 2 inches of rain Wednesday night. Henry County-Martinsville, about 35 miles from Caswell, got none, weather service data showed.

May and June were fairly dry, and July was dry locally, Corrigan said. While some areas received more rain than others, Henry County-Martinsville overall received about five inches of rain in August, he said.

Yet “that wasn’t enough to eliminate” July’s deficit, he added.


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