The U.S. drought monitor releases updated maps weekly, on Thursdays. The latest update released on Thursday, Aug. 4 shows expansions of “abnormally dry” conditions over parts of the Youngstown area. Only one of our counties showed a decrease in area considered “abnormally dry.” While there have been some recent rains, a large portion of the area remains at a deficit for rainfall over the last 30 days.

How much rain has fallen over the last week?

At our official climate reporting station, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, only 0.01″ of rainfall has been recorded as of 3 p.m. Thursday. Though the airport hasn’t recorded much rainfall, other parts of Trumbull County have. Other parts of the Valley have fared better on rainfall over the last seven days.

Radar estimates of rainfall as of 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 for the Youngstown area over the last 7 days, valid for the dates July 28 – Aug. 4.

Radar estimates across parts of northern Columbiana County show pockets of 1″ – 1.5″ of rainfall over the last seven days. Central and eastern Mahoning County have also had a little rain with estimates around 0.75″ in spots over the last week. Estimates range from 0.5″ – 1.5″ of rain over the last week in Mercer County. What has fallen in Trumbull County has mostly been across northern and western parts of the county. Lawrence County has also seen pockets of around more than 1″.

Have rainfall deficits improved?

There have been improvements across most of the area over the last month. Most of the area was looking at a deficit of over 1″ of rain nearly a month ago on July 14. Deficits as of Thursday afternoon, Aug. 4, show very few parts of the area with deficits greater than 1″. Among the areas needing rain, the most have been southwestern Columbiana County, northern Mahoning County, and eastern to northeastern Mercer County. Below is a slideshow of rainfall deficit estimates across the area over the last few weeks.

Another way to look at this data is the percentage of normal rainfall. The image below is showing you areas that have seen above or below the average rainfall for the last 30 days. The average would be right at 100%. Anything above 100% is more than average. Areas below 100% have seen below the average rainfall over the last 30 days. Most of our area is either at or below average, shaded in yellow. The only spots showing above are around East Liverpool and parts of northern and western Trumbull County. Those areas include Mesopotamia, Bristolville, and Greene. Even though there are pockets very close to average, shown without shading on the map below, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the larger deficits from July.

Percent of normal rainfall for the Youngstown area over the past 30 days. Areas above 100% are above the average rainfall over the past 30 days. Areas below 100% are running below average for that timeframe

What has changed in the lasted drought monitor for the Valley?

The only county to show a decrease in area considered “abnormally dry” between this week and last week’s updates was Trumbull County. Rains in the northern and western parts of the county led to a decrease in coverage in those areas. Lawrence County has seen no change with none of the county included in the pre-drought category. Areas considered “abnormally dry” have increased across Mahoning and Columbiana counties. There was a slight increase in northwestern Mercer county, too. Below is a side-by-side comparison of this week’s outlook compared to last week. Slide the bar to the right to see last week’s outlook and to the left to see this week.

Side-by-side comparison of this weeks U.S. Drought Monitor report with last weeks report. Slide the bar to the right to see last weeks outlook and to the left to see this weeks.

We can dive deeper into the numbers on a county-by-county basis. Trumbull County has seen a slow and steady decline in the percentage of the county classified as “abnormally dry.” Mahoning County had three straight weeks of decline. That changed this week with a nearly 15% expansion of area in the pre-drought classification. Columbiana County mirrored Mahoning, with an expansion just below 15%, after three straight weeks of improvements. Below is a look at the percentage of each of our counties considered “abnormally dry” in the past four outlooks from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

LOCATIONAUGUST 4 % OF COUNTY CONSIDERED “ABNORMALLY DRY” JULY 28 % OF COUNTY CONSIDERED “ABNORMALLY DRY” JULY 21 % OF COUNTY CONSIDERED “ABNORMALLY DRY” JULY 14 % OF COUNTY CONSIDERED “ABNORMALLY DRY”
TRUMBULL COUNTY77.71%79.85%79.85%84.72%
MAHONING COUNTY84.60%70.40%71.90%77.23%
COLUMBIANA COUNTY43.74%30.98%39.12%44.03%
MERCER COUNTY3.15%0.07%0.07%0.66%
LAWRENCE COUNTY0%0%0%0%
Percent of each county considered “abnormally dry,” the precursor to a “moderate drought” from the US Drought Monitor, in each of the last four updates to the map.

Will the drier conditions improve in the coming days?

Our best chance for some soaking rains and improvements to the drier conditions will be in the near-term forecast. The risk of rain and thunderstorms is in the forecast over the next five days. A cold front will stall out over the region Friday, keeping the chance for showers and storms in the forecast. We will have the risk of occasional downpours or thunderstorms popping up this weekend. Another cold front is expected to arrive early next week, bringing another chance for scattered rain and thunderstorms.

Youngstown area rainfall chances over the next five days, valid for Friday, August 5th – Tuesday, August 9th

Looking further ahead, the pattern is trending toward drier conditions for the area. Thursday’s 6-10 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, valid for the dates Aug. 10 – Aug. 14, puts our area in the 40% chance of drier than average conditions.

6-10 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, valid for the dates Wednesday, Aug. 10 – Sunday, Aug. 14

The 8-14 day climate outlook doesn’t look much better. The dates for Thursday’s outlook from the Climate Prediction Center are Aug. 12 – Aug. 18. That takes us to the middle of the month and shows our area split between a 33% to a 40% chance of below-average precipitation for that stretch of days. For a look at what to plan for over the next week, check the Storm Team 27 Youngstown area 7-day forecast.

8-14 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, valid for the dates Friday, Aug. 12 – Thursday, Aug. 18