Current Drought Conditions

As part of the Metropolitan Washington Water Supply and Drought Awareness Response Plan, COG issues monthly drought reports from April - October. COG also encourages wise water use throughout the entire year - visit the outreach and education website for water conservation tips.

Summary of Conditions - February 7, 2018
The National Weather Service issued an upgraded drought status on January 30, 2018, for parts of Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  The federal and related state ratings are due to lower than normal precipitation, stream flow and soil moisture.  Public drinking water supplies in metropolitan Washington are sufficient.

National Weather Service/NOAA

  • Updated the central COG region on January 30 to D2/severe drought status (D0 to D4 scale)
  • Remaining parts of the COG region remain at D1/Moderate Drought status.
  • Upper portions of the Potomac watershed are in None to D0/abnormally dry status.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

  • Drought Watch for private and public groundwater supplies for northern Virginia.
  • Communities with Potomac River or Occoquan Reservoir water supplies are exempt.

Maryland Department of Environment

  • Drought Watch for the Central region, which includes, Frederick, Carroll, and Harford counties
  • The WSSC service area in Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties is exempt consistent with the COG Drought Plan.

No other state or local declarations are known as of February 7, 2018. 

Water Supply Conditions

  • Public drinking water supplies remain sufficient despite dry conditions.
  • The Potomac, Patuxent, Occoquan and other river flows meet drinking water supply needs.
  • Water supply storage is full in reservoirs used to augment the Potomac River and have normal operational status.
  • Groundwater levels measured in shallow test wells are low, but deeper wells serving drinking water systems remain sufficient to meet regional demand.

Drought Conditions

  • NOAA designated severe drought conditions for parts of the lower Potomac Basin on Jan. 23
  • The drought designation is due to lower than normal precipitation, stream flow and soil moisture.
  • The National Weather Service forecasts dry conditions will persist through April 2018.
  • The region needs 3-6 inches of rainfall to break out of the dry conditions.  Significant precipitation is expected this week.

Public Safety

  • According to the U.S. Forest Service, there is a low to moderate risk of wildland fires in the region. 
  • Dry conditions increase the opportunities for wildfires and brushfires.
  • Fire departments encourage residents to use extra caution when smoking outside, using outdoor grills or engaging in other activities that involve open flame such as recreational fires.

Regional Drought Response

  • The region’s drinking water systems are designed to withstand major droughts.
  • The Water Supply and Drought Awareness Plan was adopted by the COG Board in 2000. The Plan ensures a coordinated regional response during times of drought.  Additional actions would be taken under the plan if conditions worsen.

Regional Water Supply and Drought Status Reports
COG's Regional Drought and Water Supply Status Outlook 
COG's CAO Drought Primer 
ICPRB's Water Supply Outlook
Virginia -  VADEQ Current Drought Conditions
Maryland - MDE Current Drought Conditions

Current Drought Monitor and Outlooks
US Drought Monitor 
Palmer Drought Index/Crop Moisture
Climate Prediction Center - Precipitation Outlooks

National Weather Service Short Term Weather Forecast - Washington, DC
National Weather Service Short Term Weather Forecast- Martinsburg, VA

Current River and Ground Water Conditions
Potomac River Flow at Little Falls
Potomac River Flow at Point of Rocks
Groundwater Levels for the Potomac River basin

Current Precipitation Information
National Weather Service - Precipitation Departures
Washington, DC, Reagan National Airport Precipitation 
Dulles Airport Precipitation 

Wise Water Use Tips for Outdoor Use - Lawn Care and Maintenance
Wise Water Use Tips 
Wise Water Use Landscaping and Watering Guide