The August 14, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor (available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) rated as at least “abnormally dry” about 70 percent of Virginia (everywhere except an area around Danville/Martinsville, the southwestern coalfield counties, the southeastern corner, and the western part of the Shenandoah, James, and New River basins); and it rated 16 percent of the Commonwealth in “moderate drought, ” including the following areas: Accomack County; most of the Northern Neck; an area of northern Virginia from Fairfax County to Page County; and an area in central Virginia from Dinwiddie County to Buckingham County. See the graphic below. (The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions, and local conditions may vary.” See rating categories below.) This compares to 89 percent of Virginia rated abnormally dry and 16 percent in moderate drought in mid-July, 18 percent abnormally dry in mid-June, and 54 percent abnormally dry in mid-May. At this time last year (week of August 16, 2011), about 41 percent of Virginia was rated as at least abnormally dry and 8 percent was rated in moderate drought. The current Virginia drought map and a link to archived maps are available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_state.htm?VA,SE.
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 August 13, 2012. The report includes information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, Forestry, and Environmental Quality. That report and other current drought-status information are available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx. As of August 14, the Task Force had issued a Drought Warning for the Appomattox River basin and a Drought Watch for the northern Piedmont and the Roanoke River basin. (For more detail, see the News Grouper item Drought Warning Issued on August 14, 2012, by Va. DEQ for Appomattox River Basin; Drought Watch for northern Piedmont and Roanoke River Basin, posted 8/15/12.)
The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating groundwater levels (GW), precipitation deficits (Prcp), reservoir storage (Res), and stream flow (Flow) conditions across the Commonwealth. In each area, a color code indicates “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.” The August 16, 2012, map is shown below. The map and more information on the ratings are available online at the Web site listed above.
Elsewhere in the United States, the August 14 Drought Monitor categorized over 70 percent of the country as at least abnormally dry (combined categories D0-D4), and over 38 percent in at least severe drought (combined categories D2-D4). These are some of the highest such percentages since the beginning of the Drought Monitor in 2000 (exceeded only by slightly higher percentages earlier this month and in July 2012). Fifteen states had at least 50 percent of their area rated in at least D2 (the percentage rated in the combined D2-D4 is shown), and six states had at least 80 percent of their area in extreme or exceptional drought (D3-D4):
ARK = 97%; 81% in extreme/exceptional
AZ = 94%
CO = 100%
IA = 100%
IL = 94%; 80% in extreme/exceptional
IN = 81%
KS = 100%; 90% in extreme/exceptional
MO = 100%; 95% in extreme/exceptional
NE = 100%; 91% in extreme/exceptional
NEV = 79%
NM = 85%
OK = 100%; 95% in extreme/exceptional
SD = 59%
UT = 72%
WY = 73%.
The August 16 Drought Monitor noted that “as of last week 87% of the U.S. corn crop, 85% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 72% of cattle areas were experiencing drought. Over half of the corn and soybean areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought.”
The National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” for the next 90 days, available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html, predicts “persistence” for the drought over much of the center of the United States.
For previous Virginia Water Central News Grouper mid-month drought reports during the current year, please click the following links: