The June 19, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor (available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/monitor.html) rated as “abnormally dry” about 18 percent of Virginia, in two areas: a section of Southside from about Richmond to the North Carolina border; and the southwestern corner of the state (essentially the area west of the New River basin). (The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions, and local conditions may vary.” See rating categories below.) This compares to 54 percent of Virginia rated abnormally dry in mid-May, 62 percent abnormally dry (or worse) and 11 percent in “moderate drought” in mid-April, 19 percent abnormally dry in mid-March, and 26 percent abnormally dry in mid-February. At this time last year (week of June 21, 2011), about 34 percent of Virginia was rated as abnormally dry (or worse), 19 percent was rated in moderate drought or worse, and about 1 percent was rated in “severe drought.” For the current Virginia drought map, see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_state.htm?VA,SE (a link to archived maps and tabular data is available there, as well).
The Drought Monitor’s categories, from mildest to most severe, are as follows:
D0 = Abnormally Dry
D1 = Moderate Drought
D2 = Severe Drought
D3 = Extreme Drought
D4 = Exceptional Drought
The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on June 11, 2012. A link to that report is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.
The Drought Monitoring Task Force also daily produces a map rating groundwater levels, precipitation deficits, reservoir storage, and stream flow conditions across the Commonwealth. In each area, a color code indicates “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.” The June 22, 2012, map is shown below. Note the emergency ratings (in red) for stream flow in parts of southeastern Virginia, and the emergency or warning ratings (in orange) for precipitation in northwestern, south-central, and southeastern Virginia. The current map and more information on the ratings are available online at the Web site listed above.
Elsewhere in the United States, the following states had at least 50 percent of their area rated in severe drought (or worse) by the June 19 Drought Monitor (percentage in parenthesis):
New Mexico (81%)
Note that Texas, which started 2012 with 85 percent of the state rated in severe drought (or worse) and 33 percent of the state rated in exceptional drought, has improved to only 27 percent in severe drought (or worse) and only about no areas of exceptional drought. still a serious situation, but vastly better than the historic conditions that persisted through 2011. South Carolina and Georgia are in similar situations—still large areas of serious conditions, but some improvement over the past three months or so. Meanwhile, states that have considerably worsened in the past three months include Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, and Utah.
On the positive side, the June 21 Drought Monitor categorized only about 0.2 percent of the entire United States in exceptional drought (the driest category), compared to over 9 percent from June 21 through October 4, 2011.