No water shortage in spring 2021

Published 3:43 pm Sunday, May 16, 2021

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By Skip Rigney

We moved into our new home the first week of May 1992. We bought a load of centipede grass sod and laid it around the house. There was no rain in the forecast, so we turned on the sprinklers.

And, then we kept the sprinklers running off and on for weeks. Because, in May 1992, it only rained once the first three weeks of the month, and when it finally did rain, it was only one-tenth of an inch. At the end of the month, we had received less than two inches of rain. Also at the end of the month, I received an enormous water bill.

In contrast, this year nature has been providing plenty of free water for lawns and gardens in our area. Heavy rain that fell this past Sunday night through early Wednesday morning continued the pattern of a very wet spring across the northern Gulf Coast, and especially in southern Pearl River County.

Five to seven inches of rain fell over the three day period in the extreme southern part of the county, including the city of Picayune. As has often happened this spring, the northern two-thirds of the county got considerably less, but with totals everywhere above two inches, the entire county got a good soaking.

The average rainfall for March, April, and May in Pearl River County during the period 1991-2020 was about 16 inches. This week’s deluge brought totals for those three months in 2021 to over the 20-inch mark in the “drier” northern parts of the county. Some locations east of Picayune have received over 35 inches of rain since March 1st. And, we have another two weeks to add to the spring tally.

Although it has been an abnormally wet spring, temperatures have been pretty typical over the past ten weeks. The historical average of high temperatures for the third week of May is in the middle 80s, and average lows are in the lower 60s. Forecasters predict that our highs will be very close to the climatological normals during the upcoming week, but high humidity will keep morning lows 5-10 degrees warmer than normal.

Surface high pressure covering the eastern one-third of the nation will keep us dry through the weekend. But then it looks like we will add to our already abnormally high rainfall for the month and the spring season.

During the upcoming work week, the surface high pressure system will shift eastward. Barometric pressures will fall along the Gulf Coast, and our winds will be onshore from the Gulf bringing in plenty of humidity. That means about a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the work week.

Forecasters may need to raise those probabilities as they update their forecasts over the next few days. A low pressure system in the southwestern United States will set off several clusters of strong to severe thunderstorms on its eastern flank in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. If the high pressure system forecast to be centered along the United States east coast weakens more than currently expected, some of those thunderstorm clusters, which meteorologists call “mesoscale convective systems,” may move eastward into our area.

I think it is safe to say that Pearl River County lawn sprinklers can safely remain in storage.