Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2014, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report, as of the end of August 2014. The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.

First, in precipitation: Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary precipitation totals for August 2014 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, with the amount above (+) or below (-) normal for this month of the year historically. All values are in inches, rounded to the nearest 0.1 inch from NWS values.

Location Observed Precipitation
Above (+) or Below (-) Normal (inches)
Blacksburg 6.0 +2.4
Bluefield (Va.-W.Va. state line) 6.4 (record high for month) +3.2
Bristol (Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va.-Tenn.) 4.2 +0.7
Charlottesville 4.3 +0.7
Danville 6.2 +2.3
Dulles Airport (Loudoun County) 5.2 +1.6
Lynchburg 4.8 +1.5
Norfolk 3.0 -2.5
Richmond 3.6 -1.1
Roanoke 6.5 +3.0
Wallops Island (Accomack County) 4.5 +0.3

Precipitation sources: Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (;
Morristown, Tenn. (
Baltimore-Washington (; and
Wakefield, Va. (

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the 1981-2010 period. 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

For graphs of precipitation, visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at, where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at 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 Southeast Regional Climate Center’s provisional (still needing verification) maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, as of September 8, 2014.  Please be sure to note that the scale is different for the 90-day map.

30 day precip60 day precip90 day precip

Next, in stream flow: According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, average stream flow values for the August 2014 at 147 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 79 percent of gages; below normal at about 3 percent; above normal at about 12 percent; and much above normal at about 6 percent. The color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period is shown below. The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are as follows:

KEEP ON DESK _ Stream Flow Chart

Streams August 20124


Finally, our drought watch:
The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln ( on September 2, 2014, categorized about 11 percent of Virginia as being abnormally dry. The areas included were Accomack County; the upper areas of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula; part of the Alleghany Highlands; all or parts of 5 or 6 far-southwestern counties; an area around Martinsville.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.” The Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
7/29/14 – 27 percent abnormally dry;
7/1/14 – 10 percent abnormally dry; 2 percent in moderate drought;
6/3/14 – 9 percent abnormally dry;
9/3/13 – drought-free.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on August 18, 2014. That report is online (as PDF) at; a link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at The Task Force’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 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 September 1, 2014, map is shown below. The current map and more information on the ratings are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

Drought Status VA Sep 1 2014
Looking beyond Virginia: The September 2, 2014, U.S. Drought Monitor rated 39.2 percent of the United States (including all or parts of 42 states) as being abnormally dry or worse, and it rated 17.5 percent of the country (including all or parts of 14 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4). (On August 7, 2012, 38.5 percent of the country was in the three worst categories; that was the highest percentage in these categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (D0-D4) and severe or worse (D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
7/29/14 – 39.8 percent abnormally dry or worse; 19.0 percent severe drought or worse;
7/1/14 – 37.2 percent abnormally dry or worse; 20.9 percent severe drought or worse;
6/3/14 – 43.6 percent abnormally dry or worse; 22.8 percent severe drought or worse;
9/3/13 – 59.7 percent abnormally dry or worse; 27.9 percent severe drought or worse.

In the following four states, over 50 percent of the state was categorized by the September 2 report as being in severe-or-worse drought:
Arizona – 57% (with 7% in extreme drought);

California – 98% (with 82% in extreme or exceptional drought; California was rated as having 100 percent severe-or-worse drought from May 13—July 29, 2014).

Nevada – 81% (with 50% in extreme or exceptional drought);

Oregon – 56% (with 34% in extreme drought).

Here are some interesting items on high temperatures and high rainfall totals in August 2014 or summer 2014, excerpted from the September 2, 2014, Drought Monitor:

In the Mid-Atlantic
According to the NWS [National Weather Service], record high temperatures were reported earlier this week at Wallops Islands, Virginia (94° F) and New Bern, North Carolina (96° F).

In the Midwest
According to the NWS in Sioux Falls, Iowa, rainfall records were broken at the Sioux Falls Airport for the summer months (30.38 inches from June through August; breaking the previous record of 20.13 inches set in 2010) as well as for the month of August (10.12 inches).

In the Northeast
With 14.07 inches falling, the monthly total rainfall record for August was broken at Islip Macarthur Airport on Long Island, according to the NWS.

In the South
In south-central Texas, on August 12, 2014, the Edwards Aquifer Authority (serving nearly 2 million south-central residents) declared Stage 4 pumping reductions for users in the San Antonio Pool as groundwater levels dropped below threshold levels.

During this week record daily high temperatures were set at Amarillo (104° F), Borger (106°), and El Paso (100° F), according to the NWS.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, a summer rainfall record was broken with 36.90 inches reported by the NWS in Lake Charles.

In the Southeast
In west-central Florida this week, the NWS in Tampa Bay reported record daily high temperatures at Sarasota-Bradenton (96° F) and Ft. Meyers (96° F).

For previous News Grouper monthly water status reports during the past 12 months, please click these links:
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013

2 responses to “Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2014, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

  1. Pingback: Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of September 2014, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally | Virginia Water Central News Grouper

  2. Pingback: Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of October 2014, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally | Virginia Water Central News Grouper

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