By Heidi Sonen & Roscoe Shaw
It’s wet. Very wet. But that’s not uncommon for this time of year. Even though our heaviest rainfall comes in the late summer, early spring is generally the muddiest time of the year.
In Virginia, and most places, the growing season and heat of summer require a lot of water. It seems like we never have enough rain. But in the fall, the growing season ends and the recharge season begins. Plants and streams need very little water and we get more than we need. But the recharge season is essential to making it through the summer with enough ground water and reservoir supply.
Drought operates on a variety of time scales. Short term drought happens every year, generally in the summer. A couple of dry weeks will quickly cause everything to turn brown. This is tough on the lawn or garden, but often happens when the groundwater is in excellent shape. The opposite occurs when a couple of rains turn things green and lush but the long term water supply remains tenuous.
Groundwater takes a long time to become dry and then a long time to recharge. Because of that, problems can often be anticipated months in advance. Right now, our Ground Water Index sits at 85 out of a possible 100, which essentially guarantees us that there will be plenty of water for the coming growing season.
February was a touch above normal and wet with nearly 5” of precipitation. The only significant winter storm came February 14-16 with four inches of snow which ended with ice and closed schools. Snow remains a significant threat in early March but late March is typically warm, windy, and time for the glorious start of spring.