Drought anxiety

A few raindrop sightings this morning notwithstanding, the spreading dry spell is in its 16th day and it may reach at least 19 before any rain is measured officially at Philadelphia International Airport.

No date has been set yet, but the dry spell has precipitated a meeting of the state-federal drought task force, which includes the National Weather Service, said Tom Rathbun, a spokesman for Pennsylvania's enviromental department.

Across the river, don't be surprised if New Jersey soon issues some type of drought advisory, said Dave Robinson, the Rutgers University professor who is the state climatologist.

The dryness, however, is not yet a crisis. Water supplies remain fairly robust. It wasn't that long ago that the region was setting records for precipitation.

While 19 straight rain-less is quite a dry run, it's well shy of a record. As Jon Nese and Glenn Schwartz noted in The Philadelphia Area Weather Book, Philadelphia had a 29-day rain-less stretch from Oct. 11 to Nov. 8 way back in 1874.

One other footnote: The meeting of the drought task force might be a good omen. Right after a meeting was scheduled back in July, what followed was a deluge.