On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of September 26 and October 3, 2022: An Introduction to the podcast series, “Fifteen Minutes in the Forest”

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of September 26 and October 3, 2022, is “Many Tree Tales are Told in ‘Fifteen Minutes in the Forest.’”   The 4 min./40 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/09/episode-637-9-26-22-many-tree-tales-are.html, focuses on a video podcast series by the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, conducted by Virginia Cooperative Extension, with excerpts from several of the series’ water-related episodes.

Screenshot from the opening of the video for “Fifteen Minutes in the Forest” Episode 4, “Bottomland Hardwoods.”

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of September 12 and September 19, 2022: Two Shorebirds on Yellow Legs

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of September 12 and September 19, 2022, is “Two Shorebirds That Stand Out on Their Yellow Legs.”   The 3 min./27 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/09/episode-636-9-12-22-two-shorebirds-that.html, focuses on the sandpiper species known as Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2022, Plus a Look at Flooding and Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, flooding, and drought, as of the end of August 2022.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, groundwater, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for July 2022 at 12 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

LocationAugust 2022 ObservedMonthly NormalSeptember 2021 – August  2022 ObservedAnnual Normal based on 1991-2020
Blacksburg6.473.5742.7542.64  
Bluefield  4.903.1444.2741.24
Bristol  2.803.7640.7543.97
Charlottesville  3.403.8739.0141.61
Danville  3.453.4731.4043.73
Lynchburg  2.643.2240.4742.76
Norfolk  1.215.8835.7149.18
Reagan National Airport2.423.2540.8641.82
Richmond  4.074.9040.8845.50
Roanoke  4.323.3739.7442.82
Wallops Island  2.544.3232.1443.25
Washington-Dulles Airport2.303.5337.8743.24

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1991 to 2020, and were released on May 4, 2021.  For information on the normal values, see the “U.S. Climate Normals” page at https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/products/land-based-station/us-climate-normals.

Location Notes

The Blacksburg location is the Blacksburg National Weather Service Office.

The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.

The Bristol location is the Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.

The Charlottesville location is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

The Danville location is the Danville Regional Airport.

The Lynchburg location is the Lynchburg Regional Airport.

The Norfolk location is the Norfolk International Airport.

Reagan National Airport is in Arlington County.

The Richmond location is the Richmond International Airport.

The Roanoke location is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

The Wallops Island is in Accomack County; the location is the NASA Test Facility.

Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation Sources

Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:

Blacksburg, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=rnk, for Blacksburg, Bluefield, Danville, Lynchburg, and Roanoke;

Morristown, Tenn., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=mrx  for Bristol;

Baltimore-Washington, online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=lwx, for Charlottesville, Reagan-National, and Dulles;

Wakefield, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=akq, for Norfolk, Richmond, and Wallops Island.

For graphs of precipitation, visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the preliminary maps from the High Plains Center of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through August 31, 2022; and for Virginia, the percent-of-normal precipitation along with the departure from normal precipitation (in inches) for the previous 30 days, also through August 31, 2022.

Shown below is a color-coded percentile map of monthly average stream flow values for August 2022 at stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border, compared to the historical range for each gage.  The map is from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map.  The chart below the map shows the color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compare flows to historical records for the month.

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 127 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending August 31, 2022, accessed on September 2, 2022, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.


NATIONWIDE FLOODING OVERVIEW

Following is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for the continental United States, as of 10:06 a.m. EDT on August 31, 2022.  The current map is available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.

Information on current groundwater levels in Virginia monitoring wells is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/current/?type=gw.

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) report of September 1, 2022, for conditions as of August 30, categorized about 7.2% of Virginia as abnormally dry or worse and about 1.7% in moderate drought.

Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors for conditions as about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:

7/26/22 – 25.2% abnormally dry or worse; and 4.5% in moderate drought.

6/28/22 – 35.0% abnormally dry or worse, and 1.8% in moderate drought.

5/31/22 – 15.6% abnormally dry;

8/31/21 – 28.5% abnormally dry or worse, and 4.6% in moderate drought.

Following are comments from Drought Monitor reports in August 2022 on conditions in or around Virginia.

From the 9/1/22 report (conditions as of 8/30/22)

FROM NORTHEAST REGION SUMMARY

“Maryland and Virginia saw increases in moderate (D1) drought areas where continued rainfall deficits, combined with warm weather, dried out soils and reduced streamflow.”

On August 12, 2022, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 8-31-22).  A link to that report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  The DMTF’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.

Following is an excerpt of the summary from the August 12 report.

“The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) met on Thursday, August 11, 2022 to discuss the status of drought monitoring and hydrologic conditions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Precipitation over the past 14 days has been substantial across Virginia.  Rainfall in excess of 300% of normal occurred
throughout the southwest, northern and central Virginia, and across the east and southeast.  Very few localized areas received less than 100% of normal precipitation over the past two weeks.  Conditions over the past 60-180 day period continue showing improvement across a majority of the region, however precipitation for much of the Eastern Shore over the past 60 days remains 50-90% of normal.  Area-averaged rainfall since the beginning of the current water year (October 1, 2021) remains below long-term normal values in just one of the 13 drought evaluation regions.  Levels below the 85th percentile for Oct-Aug persist in the Eastern Shore. …La Niña is favored to continue in the Northern Hemisphere through the end of the year with decreasing odds in late summer, and slightly increased odds through fall and early winter.
“Streamflow has continued trending higher over the past month, keeping within normal to above normal range for this time of year.  Only three streamflow sites statewide remain rated as “below-normal” (<25th percentile) in southern Virginia.  Many sites across Virginia that experienced low streamflow a month ago have recently seen recovery due to summer rainfall.

“Groundwater levels for monitoring wells in the Climate Response Network are generally stable overall, with some sites in central-eastern Virginia trending downward within normal ranges.  Groundwater levels remain below the 25th percentile for the York James and Roanoke drought evaluation regions.  Levels and storage at water-supply reservoirs throughout Virginia remain within normal ranges at this time. …

“The Task Force discussed the drought indicators identified by the Virginia Drought Assessment and
Response Plan.  Consensus was to recommend lifting the current drought watch advisory in place for the
Chowan, Southeast Virginia, and York-James drought evaluation regions.  This decision was reached after
considering many factors, including the observed precipitation and resulting recovery in streamflow and
groundwater, as well as the absence of any drought related water supply impacts at this time.  The Task Force will continue closely monitoring drought indicators and meet again next month.  The next DMTF meeting is scheduled for September 22, 2022.”

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators, online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  Shown below is the map for August 31, 2022.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency” conditions.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The September 1, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, for conditions as of August 30, categorized about 54.4% of the United States (including parts of 49 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  (The highest percentage in the abnormally or worse categories—that is, in all categories—reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 72.38 % of the country for conditions as of July 17, 2012.)  The Drought Monitor categorized about 25.7% of the country (including parts of 30 states plus Puerto Rico) as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.49% of the country in the report for conditions as of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) for conditions in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:

7/26/22 – 60.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 31.0% in severe drought or worse;

6/28/22 – 65.0% abnormally dry or worse, and 27.6% in severe drought or worse;

5/31/22 – 51.6% abnormally dry or worse, and 30.9% in severe drought or worse;

8/31/21 – 46.5% abnormally dry or worse, and 30.6% in severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more of their land area categorized by the Drought Monitor as being in severe-or-worse drought, as of August 30:

California = 98%;

Connecticut = 100%;

Kansas = 58%;

Massachusetts = 94%;

Nebraska = 60%;

Nevada = 99.5%;

New Mexico = 59%;

Oklahoma = 88%;

Oregon = 52%;

Rhode Island = 100%;

Texas = 52%;

Utah = 96%.

Following are excerpts from Drought Monitor reports in August 2022 on conditions in various parts of the United States.

From the 8/4/22 report (conditions as of 8/2/22)

FROM NORTHEAST REGION SUMMARY

“Short-term moderate and severe drought continued to expand, especially in the New York City area, New Jersey, and New England, where rainfall was sparse and temperatures were a few degrees above normal.  Water-use restrictions and farming impacts were becoming common across these regions as dry conditions continued another week.”

FROM HIGH PLAINS REGION SUMMARY

“In Columbus, Nebraska, the Platte River ran dry, indicative of the moderate and severe drought conditions ongoing in and near the eastern Nebraska town.  Two reservoirs in eastern Colorado are expected to run dry soon due to drought and water demand from irrigation.”

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

 “A myriad of drought impacts continued in the West this week, including wildfires in northern Utah and a central California reservoir dropping to its lowest level in 5 years.”

From the 8/11/22 report (conditions as of 8/9/22)

FROM NATIONWIDE SUMMARY

“Death Valley, Calif., set an all-time record for 24-hour rainfall, being doused with 1.46 inches during August 5 and 6.  The average annual rainfall in Death Valley is less than 2.5 inches, and the 24-hour total makes August 2022 the wettest month in Death Valley since February 2010, and more than half of all calendar years bring less rain than that 24-hour total.”

From the 8/25/22 report (conditions as of 8/23/22)

FROM NATIONWIDE SUMMARY

“Record-breaking rainfall led to aggressive improvements in drought conditions across parts of the South.  The heavy rainfall and flooding led to communications outages at the National Weather Service office leaving climatologists without access to important data and tools needed to fully analyze the effect of this event.”

FROM SOUTH REGION SUMMARY

“According to National Weather Service records, prior to this week’s event, the Dallas-Fort Worth Area went 67 days without measurable precipitation, the second longest streak on record going back to 1898.  The August 21-22, 24-hour total of 9.19 inches tied for the second highest 24-hour total.  The Texas State Climatologist noted that the largest flood control rain gauge total was 15.16 inches!”

From the 9/1/22 report (conditions as of 8/30/22)

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

“The North American Monsoon continued to provide excellent rainfall in the Southwest. Many areas in the region only receive about five inches of rain annually, but a few spots have nearly equaled this annual average in the last two weeks alone.  Drought conditions improved in areas receiving the heaviest rain.”

3-MONTH DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on August 31, 2022.

On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of August 29 and September 5, 2022: Observing Labor Day with Menhaden Chanteys

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of August 29 and September 5, 2022, is “A Fishing Focus for Labor Day, Featuring the Northern Neck Chantey Singers.”   The 5 min./14 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/08/episode-635-8-29-22-fishing-focus-for.html, observes Labor Day by exploring menhaden fishing and the tradition of menhaden chanteys kept alive by the Northern Neck Chantey Singers. This is a revised repeat of an episode from September 2012.

Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus).  Drawing from he Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, “Atlantic Menhaden,” online at http://www.asmfc.org/species/atlantic-menhaden.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of August 15 and August 22, 2022: Summer Night Calls Inspire a Coyote-Frog Comparison

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of August 15 and August 22, 2022, is “Coyotes and Frogs Call Out on a Virginia Summer Night.”  The 5 min./33 sec. episode, available online at this link, examines some similarities and differences–including several related to water–between two wild, but relatively common, Virginia animals. The episode features music by the Rockingham County/Harrisonburg, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels.

Gray Treefrog on the deck of a Blacksburg, Va., residence, September 23, 2009.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of July 2022, Plus a Look at Flooding and Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, flooding, and drought, as of the end of July 2022.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, groundwater, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for July 2022 at 12 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

LocationJuly 2022 ObservedMonthly NormalAugust 2021 – July 2022 ObservedAnnual Normal based on 1991-2020
Blacksburg5.354.2142.1842.64  
Bluefield  7.014.3643.2641.24
Bristol  5.925.0042.8743.97
Charlottesville  6.353.3742.8741.61
Danville  3.314.8831.1143.73
Lynchburg  9.474.1940.2742.76
Norfolk  5.186.0840.7349.18
Reagan National Airport7.614.3347.5141.82
Richmond  1.484.3744.0245.50
Roanoke  5.284.2840.8142.82
Wallops Island  2.563.3734.1943.25
Washington-Dulles Airport5.234.1540.5043.24

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1991 to 2020, and were released on May 4, 2021.  For information on the normal values, see the “U.S. Climate Normals” page at https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/products/land-based-station/us-climate-normals.

Location Notes

The Blacksburg location is the Blacksburg National Weather Service Office.

The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.

The Bristol location is the Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.

The Charlottesville location is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

The Danville location is the Danville Regional Airport.

The Lynchburg location is the Lynchburg Regional Airport.

The Norfolk location is the Norfolk International Airport.

Reagan National Airport is in Arlington County.

The Richmond location is the Richmond International Airport.

The Roanoke location is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

The Wallops Island is in Accomack County; the location is the NASA Test Facility.

Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.


Precipitation Sources

Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:

Blacksburg, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=rnk, for Blacksburg, Bluefield, Danville, Lynchburg, and Roanoke;

Morristown, Tenn., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=mrx  for Bristol;

Baltimore-Washington, online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=lwx, for Charlottesville, Reagan-National, and Dulles;

Wakefield, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=akq, for Norfolk, Richmond, and Wallops Island.

For graphs of precipitation, visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the preliminary maps from the High Plains Center of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through July 31, 2022; and for Virginia, the percent-of-normal precipitation along with the departure from normal precipitation (in inches) for the previous 30 days, also through July 31, 2022.  Please note that the percent-of-normal scale is different for the Southeast Region 90-day map.

Shown below is a color-coded percentile map of monthly average stream flow values for July 2022 at stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border, compared to the historical range for each gage.  The map is from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map.  The chart below the map shows the color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compare flows to historical records for the month.

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 127 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending July 31, 2022, accessed on August 3, 2022, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

NATIONWIDE FLOODING OVERVIEW

Following is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for the continental United States, as of 12:47 p.m. EDT on August 1, 2022.  The current map is available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.

Information on current groundwater levels in Virginia monitoring wells is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/current/?type=gw.

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) report of July 28, 2022, for conditions as of July 26, categorized about 25.2% of Virginia as abnormally dry or worse and about 4.5% in moderate drought.

Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors for conditions as about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:

6/28/22 – 35.0% of Virginia as abnormally dry or worse, and 1.8% in moderate drought.

5/31/22 – 15.6% abnormally dry;

4/26/22 – 50.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 2.8% in moderate drought;

7/27/21 – 47.2% abnormally dry or worse, and 5.6% in moderate drought.

On July 15, 2022, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 8-1-22).  A link to that report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  The DMTF’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.

Following is an excerpt of the summary from the July 15 report.

“The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) met on Thursday, July 14, 2022 to discuss the status of drought monitoring and hydrologic conditions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  …Conditions over the past 60-120 day period show improvement across a majority of the region, however precipitation over the past 60 days remains 50-90% of normal for areas in the southern and southeastern portion of the state.  Area-averaged rainfall since the beginning of the current water year (October 1, 2021) remains below long-term normal values in two of the 13 drought evaluation regions.  Levels below the 85th percentile for Oct-Jul persist in the Middle James and Eastern Shore drought evaluation regions. ….  La Niña is favored to continue with decreasing odds in late summer, and slightly increased odds for La Niña conditions in the Northern Hemisphere through winter.  Streamflow has been trending higher over the past month, toward normal flows for this time of year.  Approximately 10% of stream gages statewide remain rated as “below-normal” (<25th percentile) with the lowest streamflow observed in the Chowan and Southeast Virginia drought evaluation regions.  Significant rainfall over a short period has resulted in flooding and streamflow exceeding the 90th percentile in portions of southwest Virginia.  Groundwater levels for monitoring wells in the Climate Response Network have continued showing declines; however, most remain within normal ranges at this time.  Groundwater levels remain below the 25th percentile for the York James and Southeast Virginia drought evaluation regions.  Levels and storage at water-supply reservoirs throughout Virginia remain within normal ranges at this time. …The Task Force discussed the drought indicators identified by the Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan.  Consensus was to maintain status quo with the current drought watch advisory in place for the Chowan, Southeast Virginia, and York-James drought evaluation regions, with no additional areas included in watch at this time.  …The next DMTF meeting is scheduled for August 11, 2022.”

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators, online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  Shown below is the map for July 31, 2022.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency” conditions.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The July 28, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, for conditions as of July 26, categorized about 60.4% of the United States (including parts of all 50 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  (The highest percentage in the abnormally or worse categories—that is, in all categories—reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 72.38 % of the country for conditions as of July 17, 2012.)  The Drought Monitor categorized about 31.0% of the country (including parts of 30 states plus Puerto Rico) as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.49% of the country in the report for conditions as of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) for conditions in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:

6/28/22 – 65.0% abnormally dry or worse, and 27.6% in severe drought or worse;

5/31/22 – 51.6% abnormally dry or worse, and 30.9% in severe drought or worse;

4/28/22 – 54.2% abnormally dry or worse, and 35.4% in severe drought or worse;

7/27/21 – 49.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 32.1% in severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more of their land area categorized by the Drought Monitor as being in severe-or-worse drought, as of July 26:

Arizona = 60%;

Arkansas = 54%;

California = 97%;

Nevada = 100%;

New Mexico = 76%;

Oklahoma = 92%;

Oregon = 53%;

Rhode Island = 91%;

Texas = 85%;

Utah = 100%.

Following are excerpts from Drought Monitor reports in July 2022 on conditions in various parts of the United States.

From the 7/7/22 report (conditions as of 7/5/22)

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

“The North American Monsoon remained robust into the beginning of July, resulting in near to above normal precipitation across Arizona and New Mexico.”

From the 7/14/22 report (conditions as of 7/12/22)

FROM NATIONWIDE SUMMARY

“Dry conditions were noted in the Northeast, West, and southern Plains where flash drought conditions were impacting vast portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and into the lower Mississippi River valley.”

FROM SOUTH REGION SUMMARY

“Coleman County, Texas had its driest January-to-June period on record going back to 1895.  Other counties that had the driest first six months of the year were Bosque, Hamilton, Coryell, Wilson, Karnes, and Bee counties in Texas and Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana.”

From the 7/21/22 report (conditions as of 7/19/22)

FROM NATIONWIDE SUMMARY

“With the dryness and heat, the flash drought that has been developing in the central to southern Plains developed even more this week with the wet conditions of May and June quickly being forgotten.”

From the 7/28/22 report (conditions as of 7/26/22)

FROM NORTHEAST REGION SUMMARY

 “Severe drought expanded in coverage in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut.  Widespread calls for water conservation occurred from New England to the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, and hay fields struggled in Rhode Island.”

FROM SOUTH REGION SUMMARY

“Crop failure and related problems are widespread in the part of the region experiencing flash drought, especially in northeast Texas, eastern and central Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas.”

3-MONTH DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on August 1, 2022.

On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of August 1 and August 8, 2022: Two Great Waterbirds

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of August 1 and August 8, 2022, is “Two Great Waterbirds.”  The 3 min./58 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/08/episode-633-8-1-22-two-great-waterbirds.html, features sounds from two large wading birds, the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret, plus a guest voice reflecting on her observations of one of these birds along the Potomac River. This is a revised repeat of an episode from August 2015.

Great Blue Heron in a marsh at Wachapreague, Va. (Accomack County), October 5, 2007

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of July 18 and July 25, 2022: A Chesapeake Bay Condition Update

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of July 18 and July 25, 2022, is “Checking on the Chesapeake’s Condition.”  The 5 min./30 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/07/episode-632-7-18-22-checking-on.html, gives an overview of the most recent Chesapeake Bay & Watershed Report Card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The episode features music by Andrew VanNorstrand and by Torrin Hallett.

View of the Chesapeake Bay looking downstream from the Bay Bridge-Tunnel (between Virginia Beach and Northampton County), October 7, 2007.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of June 2022, Plus a Look at Flooding and Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, flooding, and drought, as of the end of June 2022.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, groundwater, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for June 2022 at 12 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

LocationJune 2022 ObservedMonthly NormalJuly 2021 – June 2022 ObservedAnnual Normal based on 1991-2020
Blacksburg1.294.2743.3242.64  
Bluefield  3.904.1438.5141.24
Bristol  1.473.9240.9743.97
Charlottesville  3.664.3839.0441.61
Danville  2.473.9832.3943.73
Lynchburg  2.163.8233.2742.76
Norfolk  2.274.4338.1849.18
Reagan National Airport2.964.2044.1441.82
Richmond  6.584.6449.1345.50
Roanoke  1.424.6638.5442.82
Wallops Island  2.973.3936.6043.25
Washington-Dulles Airport2.754.3037.7043.24

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1991 to 2020, and were released on May 4, 2021.  For information on the normal values, see the “U.S. Climate Normals” page at https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/products/land-based-station/us-climate-normals.

Location Notes

The Blacksburg location is the Blacksburg National Weather Service Office.

The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.

The Bristol location is the Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.

The Charlottesville location is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

The Danville location is the Danville Regional Airport.

The Lynchburg location is the Lynchburg Regional Airport.

The Norfolk location is the Norfolk International Airport.

Reagan National Airport is in Arlington County.

The Richmond location is the Richmond International Airport.

The Roanoke location is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

The Wallops Island is in Accomack County; the location is the NASA Test Facility.

Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation Sources

Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:

Blacksburg, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=rnk, for Blacksburg, Bluefield, Danville, Lynchburg, and Roanoke;

Morristown, Tenn., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=mrx  for Bristol;

Baltimore-Washington, online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=lwx, for Charlottesville, Reagan-National, and Dulles;

Wakefield, Va., online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=akq, for Norfolk, Richmond, and Wallops Island.

For graphs of precipitation, visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the preliminary maps from the High Plains Center of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through June 1, 2022; and for Virginia, the percent-of-normal precipitation along with the departure from normal precipitation (in inches) for the previous 30 days, also through June 30, 2022.  Please note that the percent-of-normal scale is different for the Southeast Region 90-day map and for the Virginia map.

Shown below is a color-coded percentile map of monthly average stream flow values for June 2022 at stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border, compared to the historical range for each gage.  The map is from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map.  The chart below the map shows the color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compare flows to historical records for the month.


An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 127 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending June 29, 2022, accessed on July 1, 2022, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

NATIONWIDE FLOODING OVERVIEW

Following is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for the continental United States, as of 2:57 p.m. EDT on June 30, 2022.  The current map is available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.

Information on current groundwater levels in Virginia monitoring wells is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/current/?type=gw.

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) report of June 30, 2022, for conditions as of June 28, categorized about 35.0% of Virginia as abnormally dry or worse and about 1.8% in moderate drought.

Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors for conditions as about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:

5/31/22 – 15.6% abnormally dry;

4/26/22 – 50.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 2.8% in moderate drought;

3/29/22 – 39.1% abnormally dry;

6/29/21 – 45.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 5.9% in moderate drought.

On June 24, 2022, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 7-6-22).  A link to that report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  The DMTF’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  Following is an excerpt of the summary from the June 24 report.

“The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) met on Thursday, June 23, 2022 to discuss the status of drought monitoring and hydrologic conditions in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  …Conditions over the past 30-120 day period show improvement for some locations, primarily the mountains in the west, however precipitation over the same period is down to 25-50% of normal for some areas in the southeastern portion of the state.  The lack of long-term precipitation in these areas has resulted in declining soil moisture conditions over time, with moderate to severe dryness showing up over the past 30-120 days.  Area-averaged rainfall since the beginning of the current water year (October 1, 2021) remains below long-term normal values in 3 of the drought evaluation regions.  Levels below the 83.5 percentile for Oct-Jun persist in the Middle James, Northern Coastal Plain, and Eastern Shore drought-evaluation regions….  Streamflow has been trending drier over the past two weeks.  Approximately 20% of stream gages statewide are rated as “below-normal” (<25th percentile) with “much below-normal” (<10th percentile) streamflow observed in the southeast and some portions of southwest Virginia.  …Groundwater levels for monitoring wells in the Climate Response Network have continued showing declines.  Sites in the central-southeastern portion of the state have shown little recovery from recent precipitation events.  Groundwater levels remain below the 25th percentile for 4 of the 13 drought-evaluation regions, with levels falling below the 5th percentile for the York James region.  Levels and storage at water-supply reservoirs throughout Virginia remain within normal ranges at this time.  …The Task Force discussed the drought indicators identified by the Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan.  Consensus was to recommend issuing a drought watch advisory for the Chowan, York James, and Southeast Virginia drought evaluation regions. This decision was reached after considering many factors, including precipitation deficits that have resulted in declined streamflow and groundwater levels, as well as reported impacts on agricultural producers and local drought advisories currently in effect.  The Task Force will continue closely monitoring drought indicators and meet again in a few weeks.  The next DMTF meeting is scheduled for July 14, 2022.”

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators, online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/drought.  Shown below is the map for June 30, 2022.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency” conditions.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The June 30, 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor, for conditions as of June 28, categorized about 65.0% of the United States (including parts of 48 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse; this was the highest nationwide percentage of abnormally dry or worse since the Drought Monitor report for conditions as of  February 19, 2013.  (The highest percentage in the abnormally or worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 72.38 % of the country for conditions as of July 17, 2012.)  The Drought Monitor categorized about 27.6% of the country (including parts of 22 states plus Puerto Rico) as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.49% of the country in the report for conditions as of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) for conditions in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:

5/31/22 – 51.6% abnormally dry or worse, and 30.9% in severe drought or worse;

4/28/22 – 54.2% abnormally dry or worse, and 35.4% in severe drought or worse;

3/29/22 – 58.3% abnormally dry or worse, and 34.5% in severe drought or worse;

6/29/21 – 51.4% abnormally dry or worse, and 29.9% in severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more of their land area categorized by the Drought Monitor as being in severe-or-worse drought, as of June 28:

Arizona = 72%;

California = 97%;

Nevada = 100%;

New Mexico = 95%;

Oregon = 53%;

Texas = 65%;

Utah = 100%.

Following are excerpts from Drought Monitor reports in June 2022 on conditions in various parts of the United States.

From the 6/9/22 report (conditions as of 6/7/22)

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

“Widespread severe to exceptional drought persists throughout much of the Southwest, Great Basin, and California.  Hydropower production concerns at reservoirs in California and Nevada continue due to low water levels.”

From the 6/16/22 report (conditions as of 6/14/22)

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

“Much of the Northern Tier of the U.S. from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains, has seen marked improvements in recent months due to a persistent storm track and near to below-normal temperatures.  That same pattern continued this week and continued to eat away at long-term precipitation deficits and indicators, such as groundwater.”

From the 6/30/22 report (conditions as of 6/28/22)

FROM NORTHEAST REGION SUMMARY

“Southeastern Massachusetts has begun community water conservation as moderate short-term drought continued.”

FROM SOUTH REGION SUMMARY

“Severe and extreme short- and long-term drought continued to plague southern Louisiana and a large portion of Texas this week.  …White-tailed deer are expected to have lower antler quality this fall in Texas due to the conditions.”

FROM WEST REGION SUMMARY

“Despite…improvements, drought, still ranging from severe to exceptional in many areas, continued in the West, leading to cricket and grasshopper swarms.”

3-MONTH DROUGHT OUTLOOK For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on June 30, 2022.

On Virginia Water Radio for the Weeks of July 4 and July 11, 2022: Imagining an Amphibious Independence Day Debate

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the weeks of July 4 and July 11, 2022, is “Frogs and Fireworks.”  The 4 min./22 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2022/07/episode-631-7-4-22-frogs-and-fireworks.html, imagines what two highly intelligent Gray Treefrogs might say about Independence Day and the status of water resources in the United States.  This is a repeat of a July 2016 episode.

Gray Treefrog at a residence in Blacksburg, Va., April 30, 2007.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is http://www.virginiawaterradio.org.  Have a listen or two!

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