Despite what may seem like a rainy few weeks, the region is actually experiencing abnormally dry conditions this month. Heading into September and October, which are traditionally very dry months, the area will need to get more rain for the soil moisture to be what it should for this time of year.
Although abnormally dry, conditions do no exist to be considered a drought, said Nick Webb, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Charleston. Droughts are declared after 15 days with prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether in the atmosphere or in groundwater.
"Before we got the rain from last week, it had been really dry for the past 10 to 14 days, and in some cases, 21 days," Webb said. "Particularly, when you go east of Huntington into Charleston and into the coalfields. The soil moisture isn't quite what it should be for this time of the year."
According to a drought monitor released Thursday, portions of McDowell, Cabell, Jackson, Roane, Logan, Mingo, Lincoln and Mason counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Most of Putnam, Kanawha, Boone and Wyoming counties were under those same conditions.
"We're just a little dry, we could still use some rain even though most of us got much needed rain within the past seven to 10 days," Webb said.
Webb said it's not time to be concerned for a moderate or severe drought, although people with gardens should take extra steps to make sure their soil is moist enough.
"Probably folks will start thinking about turning on some sprinklers and keeping their gardens watered," he said. "Particularly as we get temperatures in the mid- to upper- 80's and 90's in the beginning of next week."
Keeping the soil moist will be especially necessary as we head into September and October, which are some of the driest months of the year on average.
"We kind of want to get all the rain we can get right now before we get into September and October," he said. "Unfortunately the next best chance of organized precipitation won't be until the middle or latter part of next week, with a cold front coming through."
Webb said despite near-record rainfall in Huntington last year, the city is actually only about 4.5 inches above normal in the amount of annual precipitation. That's about 6.5 inches above normal for the month of August. A lot of rains in the area last week tipped the scale for August, he said.
2018 was the second-wettest year on record in Huntington, with the area receiving 60.25 inches of rainfall, just shy of the record 62.44 inches set in 2011. In Charleston, a record-breaking amount of rainfall was measured that year. The capital city experienced 66.56 inches to break a 2003 record of 61.14 inches.
It does not appear those records will be broken in 2019.