Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of June 2020, 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 2020.  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.

Water status icon precipitation by George Wills

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for June 2020 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.

Location June

2020 Observed

Monthly Normal July 2019-

June 2020 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 5.27 4.00 51.81 40.89
Bluefield1 6.26 4.14 49.45 39.63
Bristol2 2.75 3.90 56.67 41.01
Charlottesville3 2.44 3.73 37.51 42.71
Danville 3.41 3.85 45.79 44.41
Lynchburg 4.91 3.62 46.18 41.57
Norfolk 3.50 4.26 48.49 46.53
Reagan National Airport4 3.51 3.78 40.65 39.74
Richmond 5.25 3.93 40.36 43.60
Roanoke 7.72 3.83 55.25 41.25
Wallops Island5 0.87 3.29 42.69 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport6 5.21 3.98 40.22 41.54

Location notes
1 – The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.
2- The Bristol location is the Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.
3 – The Charlottesville location is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
4 – Reagan National Airport is in Arlington County.
5 – Wallops Island is in Accomack County.
6 – Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation sources:  Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk);
Morristown, Tenn. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx);
Baltimore-Washington (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=akq).

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1981 to 2010.  The National Climatic Data Center released these normal values in July 2011.  For information on the normal values, see the National Climatic Data Center Web page at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/climate-normals.

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 of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, and for Virginia for the previous 30 days, all through June 30, 2020.

PrecPercSE30PrecPercSE60PrecPercSE90PrecPercVA30 Water status icon stream flow by George Wills
Shown below is a color-coded percentile map of monthly average stream flow values for June 2020 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.

Streams Map June 2020 KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending June 29, 2020, accessed on July 1 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams graph June29

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 about 3:30 p.m. EDT on July 1, 2020.  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.

Flooding US July 1
Water status icons groundwater by George Wills
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.

Water status icon drought watch by George Wills

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for June 30, 2020, categorized about 0.3% of Virginia as abnormally dry (on the Eastern Shore). The Drought Monitor had categorized Virginia as drought-free for the weeks from February 11, 2020, through June 9, 2020.

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 from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
5/26/20 – drought-free;
4/28/20 – drought-free;
3/31/20 – drought-free;
6/25/19 – 0.03% abnormally dry.

On November 1, 2019, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 7-1-20).  A link to that report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The DMTF’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.

The DMTF also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, also online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/CurrentDroughtConditionsMap.aspx.  Shown below is the map for June 30, 2020.  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 VA June 30DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The June 30, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized about 38.2% of the United States (including parts of 44 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 the week of October 2, 2018.  (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 the week of July 17, 2012.)

The Drought Monitor categorized about 8.8% of the country (including parts of 16 states plus Puerto Rico), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4); this was the highest  nationwide percentage of severe-or-worse drought since the Drought Monitor report for the week of January 8, 2019.  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.48% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
5/26/20 – 28.9% abnormally dry or worse; 6.0% severe drought or worse;
4/28/20 – 24.0% abnormally dry or worse; 4.7% severe drought or worse;
3/31/20 – 21.1% abnormally dry or worse; 2.5% severe drought or worse;
6/25/19 – 10.6% abnormally dry or worse, 0.8% severe drought or worse.

The following state had 50% or more of its land area categorized by the June 30, 2020, Drought Monitor as being in severe-or-worse drought:

Colorado – 56%.

90-DAY 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 July 1, 2020.

Drought Outlook US Jun30

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for July 3 – July 17, 2020

Click on underlined meeting dates for more information, including instructions for online or phone-conference meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other events, please see the “Announcements” posts at the Virginia Water Monitoring Council Web site, https://www.vwmc.vwrrc.vt.edu/announcements/.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE AUTHORITIES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES

7/15/20, 8:30 a.m.: Department of Health’s Waterworks Advisory Committee.  At Sydnor Hydro, Inc., 2111 Magnolia Street in  Richmond.

7/15/20, 10 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?191+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.  The Virginia General Assembly Web site is https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.

None during this period.

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MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.   TMDL reports are available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

None during this period.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Ports

7/9/20, 9 a.m.: Virginia Port Authority’s Board Search Committee.  Electronic meeting; public access conference line phone is (866) 876-6756, passcode: 823865.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards

7/9/20, 9 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulatory advisory committee meeting on proposed Water Quality Management Planning Regulation Amendments for nitrogen and phosphorus waste load allocations to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers.  Electronic meeting; for registration information, see GoToWebinar online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7042574693656012559.  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is Section 9 VAC 25-720.  The Notice of Intended Regulatory Action for this rulemaking was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on November 25, 2019.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the July 9, meeting, “[t]he purpose of the meeting is to discuss revisions to the Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus wasteload allocations for significant dischargers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”  More information on this regulatory process is available online at https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=1493.

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-29-20: Ways that Animals Get Water

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 29, 2020, is “Animal Ways of Getting Water.”  The 4 min./31 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2020/06/episode-531-6-29-20-animal-ways-of.html, has examples from whales, snakes, birds, amphibians, and insects.  The episode features music by the Nelson County and Charlottesville, Va.-based band, Chamomile and Whiskey.

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

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for June 26 – July 10, 2020

Click on underlined meeting dates for more information, including instructions for online or phone-conference meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature. 

For other events, please see the “Announcements” posts at the Virginia Water Monitoring Council Web site, https://www.vwmc.vwrrc.vt.edu/announcements/.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE AUTHORITIES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES

6/29/20, 10 a.m.: State Water Control Board.  Electronic meeting online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1896038940105082128.

*          *          *

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?191+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.  The Virginia General Assembly Web site is https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/. 

None during this period. 

*          *          *

MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site.   TMDL reports are available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

None during this period.

*          *          *

MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Waste Management – Solid Waste

6/29/20, 7 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft major permit modification for the Loudoun County Solid Waste Management Facility.  At the Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, S.E., in Leesburg.  Among other provisions, the permit modification involves design modifications to the liner, leachate collection, final cover system, storm water management system, landfill gas collection and control system, and groundwater monitoring system.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards

7/9/20, 9 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulatory advisory committee meeting on proposed Water Quality Management Planning Regulation Amendments for nitrogen and phosphorus waste load allocations to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers.  Electronic meeting; for registration information, see GoToWebinar online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/7042574693656012559.  The relevant section of the Virginia Administrative Code is Section 9 VAC 25-720.  The Notice of Intended Regulatory Action for this rulemaking was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on November 25, 2019.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the July 9, meeting, “[t]he purpose of the meeting is to discuss revisions to the Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus wasteload allocations for significant dischargers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”  More information on this regulatory process is available online at https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewchapter.cfm?chapterid=1493.

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-22-20: Virginia Rail

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 22, 2020, is “Virginia Rails in Sound and Music.”  The 4 min./16 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2020/06/episode-530-6-22-20-virginia-rails-in.html, focuses on the Virginia Rail as an example of a group of birds whose think bodies adapt them for life among wetland plants.  The episode features music by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va.

530 Image 1 USFWS used in Episode 165Virginia Rail in 2010, location not identified. Photo by Dave Menke, made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov; specific URL for this photo was https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/natdiglib/id/12858/rec/1, as of 6-22-20.

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

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-15-20: Virginia’s 2020 Water Quality Assessment

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 15, 2020, is “Virginia’s Biennial Water Quality Assessment Report.”  The 5 min./15 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2020/06/episode-529-6-15-20-virginias-biennial.html, examines some basic information about water quality, designated uses, and Virginia’s 2020 water quality assessment report (undergoing public comment through July 9, 2020).  The episode closes with music by the Virginia group The Steel Wheels.
Map watersheds with assessed uses from DEQ 2020 report
Map showing the Virginia watersheds assessed for support of designated uses, as identified in the “Draft 2020 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report” by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Map accessed online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityAssessments/2020305(b)303(d)IntegratedReport.aspx#maps, 6/16/20.

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

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-8-20: Two Frogs and One Loud, Infrequent Insect

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 8, 2020, is “The Distinction of Gray Treefrogs, Plus a Cicada Closing.”  The 3 min./58 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2020/06/episode-528-6-8-20-distinction-of-gray.html, focuses on the Gray Treefrog and Cope’s Gray Treefrog, two species that look identical but vary in their call.  The episode closes with an extra sound: that of the 17-year periodical cicada brood that is emerging in southwestern Virginia in late spring 2020.

Gray Tree Frog on Raflo back deck Sep23 09 6 p.m. TWO USED GRouper 6-8-20Gray Treefrog on a residential deck in Blacksburg, Va., September 23, 2009.

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

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of May 2020, 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 May 2020.  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.

Water status icon precipitation by George Wills

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for May 2020 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.

Location May 2020 Observed Monthly Normal June 2019-May 2020 Observed Annual Normal
Blacksburg 7.38 4.33 51.93 40.89
Bluefield1 6.79 4.31 46.01 39.63
Bristol2 4.38 3.80 61.59 41.01
Charlottesville3 2.70 3.98 38.88 42.71
Danville 5.53 3.88 47.12 44.41
Lynchburg 3.65 3.73 45.06 41.57
Norfolk 2.56 3.41 48.84 46.53
Reagan National Airport4 2.49 3.99 41.41 39.74
Richmond 1.90 3.78 40.25 43.60
Roanoke 11.44 4.06 53.06 41.25
Wallops Island5 2.05 2.95 43.62 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport6 2.40 4.55 37.45 41.54

Location notes
1 – The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.
2- The Bristol location is the Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.
3 – The Charlottesville location is the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
4 – Reagan National Airport is in Arlington County.
5 – Wallops Island is in Accomack County.
6 – Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation sources:  Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk);
Morristown, Tenn. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx);
Baltimore-Washington (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (https://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=akq).

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1981 to 2010.  The National Climatic Data Center released these normal values in July 2011.  For information on the normal values, see the National Climatic Data Center Web page at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/climate-normals.

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 of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, and for Virginia for the previous 30 days, all through May 31, 2020.

PrecippercSE30May31PrecippercSE60May31PrecippercSE90May31PrecippercVA30May31
Water status icon stream flow by George Wills

Shown below is a color-coded percentile map of monthly average stream flow values for May 2020 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.

Streams map May KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending May 31, 2020, accessed on June 1 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams Plot May31

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 about 4:40 p.m. EDT on June 1, 2020.  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.

Flooding US Jun1

Water status icons groundwater by George Wills
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.

Water status icon drought watch by George Wills

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for May 26, 2020, categorized Virginia as drought-free, as has been the case since the Drought Monitor report for February 11, 2020.

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 from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
4/28/20 – drought-free;
3/31/20 – drought-free;
2/25/20 – drought-free;
5/28/19 – 14.3% abnormally dry.

On November 1, 2019, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 6-1-20).  A link to that report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The DMTF’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.

The DMTF also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, also online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/CurrentDroughtConditionsMap.aspx.  Shown below is the map for May 31, 2020.  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 May 26, 2020, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized about 28.9% of the United States (including parts of 28 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized about 6.0% of the country (including parts of 16 states), 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 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
4/28/20 – 24.0% abnormally dry or worse; 4.7% severe drought or worse;
3/31/20 – 21.1% abnormally dry or worse; 2.5% severe drought or worse;
2/25/20 – 20.3% abnormally dry or worse; 1.9% severe drought or worse;
5/28/19 – 11.3% abnormally dry or worse, 0.3% severe drought.

Following are some comments from the 5/26/20 Drought Monitor on conditions in several U.S. regions with areas of severe-or-worse drought.

South

“Moderate drought conditions improved in parts of south-central Louisiana, where soil moisture and short-term precipitation deficits had lessened. Drought conditions improved in parts of Texas where rainfall this week lessened short-term deficits, while many areas that missed the higher rainfall amounts worsened, particularly in the drier parts of the Texas Panhandle. In Oklahoma, parts of western Oklahoma and the Panhandle that received more rainfall had improvements. However, rainfall missed the western Oklahoma Panhandle, where severe drought continues, and precipitation deficits on both short- and long-term scales have continued to worsen here.”

High Plains

“Rain from a cluster of thunderstorms on Thursday in southwest Kansas prevented conditions from worsening there, though southwest Kansas and adjacent eastern Colorado remain very dry, and moderate, severe, and extreme drought persisted across parts of these areas. Extreme drought lessened in coverage in part of eastern Colorado due to recent rainfall and lessened short-term precipitation deficits. In northern Kansas and Nebraska, heavy rain from a series of slow-moving storm systems improved what had been abnormally dry conditions in some areas. Short-term moderate drought persisted this week in southwest North Dakota and far northwest South Dakota.”

West

“…In western Utah, severe drought expanded westward as a result of worsened short- and long-term precipitation deficits. Severe drought expanded northward in central Idaho, where streamflow had become very low in the Big Lost River area. Farther northwest in Idaho, and in adjacent parts of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington, recent precipitation resulted in lessened precipitation deficits and improved streamflow, leading to improvements in drought conditions and abnormal dryness in these areas.  Recent precipitation also led to the removal of moderate drought in northwest Montana.   Areas of southwest Montana and adjacent northeast Idaho that missed out on the larger precipitation amounts this week slipped into moderate drought as a result of growing short- and long-term precipitation deficits.  Severe drought was added to the map in southeast Oregon, where short- and long-term precipitation deficits continued to grow.  Growing precipitation deficits over the water year and lessening streamflow led to the extension of moderate drought in a small part of north-central Oregon and adjacent south-central Washington.  Recent precipitation led to a slight reduction in coverage of moderate and severe drought in western Oregon.  Moderate drought coverage increased in eastern New Mexico due to increasing short-term precipitation deficits and high evaporative demand.”

90-DAY 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 1, 2020.

Drought Outlook US May 31

 

On Virginia Water Radio for the Week of 6-1-20: Music to Observe Virginia Cave Week, May 31-June 6

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of June 1, 2020, is “Observing Virginia Cave Week with ‘In the Cave’ by Pepe Deluxé.”  The 4 min./12 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2020/06/episode-527-6-1-20-observing-virginia.html, features remarkable music performed in a remarkable Virginia landmark created by groundwater.  This episode revises and replaces an episode from April 2013.

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

VDEM “Know Your Zone” Hurricane Evacuation Zone Website for Coastal Virginia, as of May 2020

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s (VDEM) “Know Your Zone” online tool, to assist evacuations during hurricanes and other disasters, is available at https://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup/.

The four-zone tool covers about 1.25 million people in Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore.

Following is the VDEM text on the tool, from its main Web page as of 5-28-20:

“‘Know Your Zone’ serves roughly 1.25 million residents who live in Coastal Virginia, the region of the state most vulnerable to hurricanes and other tropical storms. Twenty-three localities participate in the tiered evacuation zones.  Zones were developed in close coordination with local emergency managers throughout Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula and the Eastern Shore based on the most up-to-date engineering data for the region.

“Zones are designated A through D. Zones provide residents with clarity on whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their physical street address and the nature of the emergency event. When a serious storm is expected to threaten or impact Virginia’s coastal regions, state and local emergency agencies will work with local news media outlets, as well as social media channels, that will then broadcast and publish evacuation directives to the public.

“This website displays a detailed, interactive, color-coded map showing each evacuation zone. Residents can use the map to view their region or zoom in to their residential neighborhood and street. Users can enter their physical address in the search bar to view and confirm their designated evacuation zone.”

Additional Source: Here are the new evacuation zones for coastal Virginia, [Newport News] Daily Press, 6/2/17 (updated 9/8/17).