Drought Stress Heightens Across Region; Fall Foliage Impacts Possible

WOAY-TV (Oak Hill, WV): While moderate drought grips our region, severe drought is taking a big toll farther east.

A dry and hot summer is leading to parched lawns across the Mid-Atlantic. The worst hit is the Shenandoah Valley where drought is so bad that leaves are changing color and the heat stress is allowing leaf fall already! The stage at the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., is just under one foot. When we drove through, there were certain points where you could walk across the exposed rocks in the river without getting your feet wet.

Regional drought develops a feedback loop whereas dry leaves and soil evaporate less moisture and the sun can efficiently warm temperatures above forecast. Additionally, the dry environment often leads to less rain than a typical weather system would produce when it moves through a region. Therefore, drought can breed itself.

What ultimately will crush a drought? A stalled front and/or tropical storm or hurricane. The moderate drought in the Greenbrier Valley in the summer of 2011 was removed in early September when Tropical Storm Lee, which made landfall along the central Gulf of Mexico, teamed up with an approaching front and produced plentiful rain.

The Shenandoah Valley is at risk for a very abbreviated and muted fall foliage season with the early onset of drought. This could very well happen in the Greenbrier Valley as well.

Until then, we will be on Drought Patrol and bring you the latest information.

Sponsored Content