RICHMOND—After abnormally dry soil conditions were reported across the state, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has lifted a drought watch advisory for four of the five affected areas.
Since the initial drought watch advisory was issued on April 25, much of the covered areas received above-normal precipitation during the first two weeks of May.
These regions now show normal to near-normal conditions due to increased precipitation. Groundwater levels also have begun to recover, and storage at water supply reservoirs is within normal ranges.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress Report, 76% of topsoil moisture and 73% of subsoil moisture was adequate as of May 14.
About 65,800 Virginia residents were in areas of drought that week—down 64.7% from the week prior, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. Drought Monitor.
DEQ lifted the advisory on May 15 for the Chowan, Northern Coastal Plain, Southeast Virginia and York-James drought evaluation regions.
An advisory remains in effect for the Eastern Shore, with a majority of Northampton and Accomack counties reporting moderate drought conditions as of May 16.
But Matt Hickman, Accomack County Farm Bureau President, said after experiencing delays in corn planting due to “extremely dry” conditions in April, the area is not currently experiencing them.
“Due to our sandy soils, we can turn dry pretty quickly,” Hickman said. “But at the moment, as to my knowledge, every area on the shore has gotten adequate rainfall within the last month.”
Hickman added that the northern end of Accomack County has even experienced delays in planting from excessive rainfall.
“We just seem to be in a wet area at the moment,” he added. “The rest of the shore has made very good planting progress and has adequate rain, so things are looking pretty good over here.”
According to the USDA, 84% of the state’s corn, 66% of cotton and 45% of soybeans had been planted as of May 14. While corn is slightly behind schedule, cotton and soybeans are ahead of last year’s crop progress.
DEQ continues to work with local governments, public water works and water users in the remaining two counties. Virginians should minimize water use, monitor drought conditions and detect and repair leaks to help protect current water supplies.
For more information on the current drought status, visit deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought