The updated U.S. Drought Monitor has been released, and it shows more troubling information for portions of Louisiana. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has upgraded over 35 percent of the state to a D2 "severe" level on the drought intensity scale. This includes a large chunk of Southwest Louisiana. Last week, only 4 percent of the state was in a severe drought.
Here are some of the latest rainfall stats from the Lake Charles Regional Airport:
Since Jan. 1, we have recorded 39 inches of rain. The normal value is around 37.72 inches. This would indicate that we are about 1.28 inches above normal for the year. This is a big difference from last year, when during the same period, we had 56.39 inches of rain for the year, indicating a surplus of over 18 inches.
Since June 1, however, Lake Charles has officially recorded 9.48 inches of rainfall for the summer period. The normal value would fall around 16.84 inches. This puts Calcasieu Parish around 7.36 inches below normal for the summer period of rainfall. This is in stark contrast to last year's measurements, when the area was enjoying a 7.68 inch surplus during the summer.
The D1 moderate drought level is the least intense rating on the scale, with D4 being the most intense. NOAA uses five key factors to indicate drought conditions.
D2 Severe drought means water shortages become more widespread, crop or pasture losses are likely, and water restrictions are possibly imposed.
The next level for portions of Southwest Louisiana on the drought monitor would be the Extreme Drought category. An extreme level drought would likely bring major crop and pasture losses, widespread water shortages and water restrictions.
Computer models are not looking too promising for widespread rainfall through the next week. We could use some rainfall to help recover from the drought conditions.