Rainfall Record Speculation

| December 20, 2007 @ 7:00 am | 4 Replies

As James pointed out on the Weather Xtreme Video this morning, the weather office can be all a buzz when something big, like a white Christmas, shows even the remotest possibility of happening. I’m one of those standing in the front of the line cheering for a white Christmas – I love snow. But there is another big event shaping up that doesn’t have nearly the appeal of a white Christmas in Central Alabama.

Of course, I’m talking about our drought. The northern two-thirds of Alabama and much of the northern half of Georgia are running 24 to 30 inches below the average annual rainfall that we typically see. The good news is that I’m writing this post with a massive area of rain just west of Alabama. So perhaps we’ll get an inch or more over the next 24 hours to help ease drought conditions – that would be nice. And, we continue to see model projections of an impressive series of waves coming through the upper flow which promise to bring additional rain events to the parched Southeast US.

So where does all of this put us when it comes to annual rainfall records? The table below shows the five lowest annual rainfall totals for Birmingham since 1895. The data for 2007 was through December 19th.

Year Rainfall
2007 27.87
1895 29.00
1896 34.00
1904 34.32
1931 36.14

It appears likely that 2007 will go into the record books as one of the all time driest years in the last 118 years. To get pushed out as one of the driest five years on record, we’d have to see nearly nine inches of rain at the Birmingham airport over the next 12 days. That’s probably not impossible, but it’s also not likely to occur.

Even with the fast moving pattern and weather systems every two to three days, it seems pretty likely that whatever rainfall we get, 2007 will still go down as one of the three driest years ever here.

So bring on the rain … or the snow … I’m ready for either!!



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About the Author ()

Brian Peters is one of the television meteorologists at ABC3340 in Birmingham and a retired NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist. He handles the weekend Weather Xtreme Videos and forecast discussion and is the Webmaster for the popular WeatherBrains podcast.

Comments (4)

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  1. Bill in Vigo says:

    Good morning all.
    It is nice and cool here in Vigo this morning,
    low 37.0
    current 46.0
    light wind

    the perfect set up for rain, come on rain for sure. The thought for possible snow for Christmas is nice but not likely, but the thought is nice. I can only recall one and that was when I was very young back in the 50’s. We lived in extreme NW Mississippi at the time. we moved to Florida when I was 10 so you can see I was young for sure.

    Have a good day all, and come on rain.


  2. Joanna says:

    I wouldn’t mind a pretty white christmas.
    Just enough snow for my kids to play in but not too much where you can’t get out at all during the day to visit family.

  3. Mike Wilhelm says:

    It will be real interesting to see how this progresses. Birmingham needs at least 1.14″ of rain between now and the 31st to avoid 2007 being the driest year on record.

    Based on the number of rain chances we have between now and the end of the year, it appears likely to me that we will not break the 1895 record. James pointed out that the NAM shows 1.49″ from today’s wave but that the GFS only shows .28″. James said that the truth will be somewhere in between. Based on the radar returns over Mississippi at mid-morning, most areas have received less than 1/2″ but parts of northen Mississippi have already received over an inch.

    Birmingham will need 6.14″ to avoid having 2007 be the second driest year on record. That will be much less likely. If Birmingham gets 1/2″ today, they will only need .64″ during the final 10 days of the year. It is looking very likely to me at this point that 2007 will finish the second driest year of all time with only 1895 being drier.

    I cannot help but question the accuracy of the records from the late 1800’s. I wonder why both 1895 and 1896 happen to be exactly 29.00 and 34.00, respectively. It also seems a little odd to me that the three driest years of all time occurred in a nine year period. I am not saying that is impossible, but it just makes me wonder how accurate records were at that time.

    Brian (or and of the other team members), how accurate do you think those records were?

  4. Matt Padgett says:

    Hello Brian,

    Thanks for the post. Brian do you have any other data on the year of 1895 and 1896 pertaining to other surrounding regions or the US in general. I also thought we needed about 7 inches of rain to prevent us from having the driest year on record. I wasn’t able to read the blog yesterday so I’m guessing I might have missed some new information. I will scroll down and catch up. Have a good day.

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