April rains make up an inch, but drought continues

Reservoirs, ground water remain at alarming levels

May 02, 2002|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

Ten days of April showers gave Baltimore its first month of above-normal rainfall since August, according to the National Weather Service.

But forecasters say the region still faces a serious water shortage problem.

Rainfall at Baltimore-Washington International Airport totaled just more than 4 inches. That was an inch more than the April norm -- an inch now subtracted from the 12-inch deficit that had accumulated since August.

The bonus rains kept farmers in business, but it has not rescued the region from drought.

"Reservoirs and ground water remain low, and our long-term drought rolls on," said meteorologist Chris Strong, in an April summary statement from the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Baltimore's reservoirs stood at 62 percent of capacity yesterday, according to public works officials. That's up from 55 percent March 1, and 60 percent April 1. But the reservoirs should be topping 95 percent at this time of year, said DPW spokesman Kurt L. Kocher.

In May 1999, just before a summer drought prompted statewide water-use restrictions, Baltimore's reservoirs were at 82 percent of capacity -- about one-third higher than they are today.

They eventually fell to a low of 55 percent of capacity in September 1999.

April ended with an average temperature of 56.7 degrees. That was 3.5 degrees warmer than normal, making April the sixth straight month at BWI with above-average temperatures. That departure from normal temperatures has averaged 4.3 degrees a month.

April set two record-high temperatures -- 90 degrees on the 16th, and 93 degrees on the 17th. Both broke records set in 1976.

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