Category Archives: Non-Virginia

Oil Pipeline Break and Spill in Santa Barbara County, California, on May 19, 2015; Summary and Information Sources

On May 19, 2015, an underground pipeline carrying crude oil along the coastline of Santa Barbara County, California, ruptured and spilled an estimated 101,000 gallons, of which an estimated 21,000 gallons reached the ocean water via a stormwater culvert (estimates reported in news accounts as of May 25).  The Plains All American Pipeline is a 24.6-inch diameter, 10.6 mile long pipeline between Las Flores Canyon and Gaviota, Calif.  The federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has regulatory authority over the pipeline, which is operated by Plains All American Pipeline LP (

Following are several ongoing sources of information, as of 5/26/15.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Cal Spill Watch,” online at

CBS News, California Oil Spill Photo Gallery, online at

Los Angeles Times, “Full Coverage – Santa Barbara Oil Spill,” online at

U.S. Coast Guard, District 11 (includes California), online at

U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, “Briefing Room,” online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Emergency Management, “Oil Spills,” online at

Preliminary Severe Weather Reports for May 9-10, 2015, from NWS/Storm Prediction Center

Below are the National Weather Service/Storm Prediction Center’s maps of preliminary (not yet verified) reports of high winds, hail, and tornadoes in the continental United States on May 9 and May 10, 2015, including fatal tornadoes on May 10 in Arkansas and Texas.  (For a news account, see At Least Five Dead After Storms Rip Through Southern US, French Press Agency [AFP], as published on, 5/11/15).

May 9 storm reports May 10 storm reports

The daily storm-report maps and notes are available online at  From that link, you can also access the Center’s archive of maps and reports going back several years.

California’s Long-term Drought – A Quick Summary and Sources of Information, as of May 7, 2015

[This post revises previous posts of 2-28-14 and 7-17-14.]

It’s an event of national significance when persistent and severe drought afflicts California, the nation’s third largest state in land area and largest in population (with over 37 million people as of the 2010 Census), and the source of over $44 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, about 11 percent of total U.S. cash farm receipts that year (according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, at, 2/28/14).

As of the May 5, 2015, edition of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (online at, almost 94 percent of California was categorized as being in “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought (the Drought Monitor’s three driest categories, out of five). Over 90 percent of the state has been in these categories since February 2014, with 100 percent of the state so rated during much of summer 2014. And as far back as June 2013, over 50 percent of the state was in the severe-or-worse categories.

The following comments in the July 15, 2014, edition of the Drought Monitor add some more perspective on the current California drought:

“…With June [2014] in the books, NCDC [National Climatic Data Center; online at] rankings for California for the July 2013-June 2014 period were the warmest and 3rd driest since 1895.  The only drier July-June periods were in 1923-24 and 1976-77.  This is the first time California experienced 3 consecutive years in the top 20 for dryness: 2011-12 ranked 20th, 2012-13 ranked 18th, and statewide precipitation has averaged 67% of normal during this 3-year period, and was just 56% of normal in 2013-14.  Fortunately California’s reservoirs hold more water than they did in 1977 when the state experienced its 4th and 2nd driest years on record from July 1975-June 1977.  However, a recent study estimated that this drought will cost California $2.2 billion in 2014, with a loss of over 17,000 agricultural jobs.”

On July 16, 2014, the California Water Quality Control Board announced that mandatory restrictions on residential water use would begin August 1, with violators subject to fines of $500 per day. Then, on May 5, 2015, the Board adopted emergency regulations requiring an immediate 25-percent reduction in overall water use across the state. An Executive Order by Gov. Jerry Brown on April 1, 2015, had ordered the Board to adopt such regulations. For more information on the state’s water-conservation regulations, please see this link: Emergency Regulations Development to Achieve 25% Conservation.

Below are links to other information sources (besides the U.S. Drought Monitor) to help you learn about and follow this significant event in the Golden State.

California Department of Food and Agriculture, online at, phone: (916) 654-0466.  (For agricultural statistics, see

California Department of Water Resources, online at; phone: (916) 653-5791.

California Institute for Water Resources/University of California-Davis, online at, phone: (510) 987-9124.  (For drought-information resources, see

California State Water Control Board, online at; (916) 341-5254.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) California Water Science Center, Sacramento, online at; phone: (916) 278-3000.

PBS “NewsHour” reports:
*February 14, 2014, “California’s historic drought strains towns and farms in Sonoma County,” online at (8 min./4 sec.).

*July 16, 2014, “California’s ‘water cop’ urges residents to take drought seriously with mandatory restrictions,” online at (9 min./38 sec.).

*May 6, 2015, “Will water-wasting penalties help California conserve?”; online at (5 min./36 sec.).

A Water Conference Sampler from around the United States and Canada – 3/19/15 Edition; Updated 5/4/15

Here are some water  and water-related meetings in the United States and Canada in coming months.  This list is updated as the Virginia Water Resources Research Center learns of new events and a new version is re-posted quarterly.  If you would like an event added, please send basic information (date, location, event title, event organizer, Web site, and contact information) to with subject line: For Water Central Editor.  This post is for non-Virginia events; for water meetings and other events in the Old Dominion, please see the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s online Quick Guide to Virginia Water Events.

Some of this information was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  For more information on the VWMC, please visit

Nat Cons TR CTR Shepherdstown Main Building Sep25 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W. Va. (shown here in Sep. 2014) annually hosts many water-related meetings, including the 2015 Chesapeake Watershed Forum on Sept. 24-26 (listed below).

April through September 2015: Workshops by North Carolina State University Stream Restoration Program.  For more information click on the individual links below or go to; or contact Cathy Smith at (919) 515-6780 or
Apr. 1-3, Asheville: RC 101: Stream Morphology & Assessment.
May 6-8, Asheville: RC 201: Natural Channel Design Principles.
May 12-14, Raleigh, Goldsboro, and Beaufort: RC 522: Coastal Plain Tour & Evaluation.
Jun. 1-2, Banner Elk: RC 131: Assessment & Identification of Riparian Vegetation.
Jul. 8-10, Raleigh: RC 302: Hydraulic Modeling for Stream Restoration.
Sep. 15-17, Asheville: RC 161: Taxonomy & Pollution Ecology of Aquatic Insects.

May 5-7, 2015, Minneapolis: 11th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology. Organized by the American Meteorological Society. More information:

May 6, 2015, State College, Penn.:  2015 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium.   This year’s theme is “An Unconventional Look at PA Groundwater.”   Organized by Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  More information:

May 12-14, 2015, St. Louis: National Adaptation Forum [on adaptation to climate change].  Organized by EcoAdapt (, a non-profit organization in Washington State.  More information:

May 12-15, 2015, Greenville, S.C.: National Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Workshop & Training.  Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.  More information:

May 17-21, 2015, Austin, Tex.: World Environmental and Water Resources Congress.  Organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  More information:; (800) 548-2723.

May 19-20, 2015, Harrisburg, Penn:: Annual conference of the Choose Clean Water Coalition (a group of some 200 organizations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed; based in Annapolis, Md.).  More information:; (443) 759-3407;

May 31-Jun. 4, 2015, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada: Tropics to Poles: Advancing Science in High Latitudes.  13th American Meteorological Society Conference on Polar Meteorology and Oceanography, and the 49th Congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.  More information:

Jun. 10-12, 2015, Raleigh, N.C.: 43rd Conference on Broadcast Meteorology. Organized by the American Meteorological Society. More information:

Jun. 15-17, 2015, New Orleans, La.: Climate Change Adaptation.  Summer specialty conference by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA).  More information:; or contact AWRA (headquartered in Middleburg, Va.) at (540) 687-8390 or

Jun. 16-18, 2015, Las Vegas, Nev.: Water is Not for Gambling: Utilizing Science to Reduce Uncertainty.  Annual conference of the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR), the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR), and the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI).  More information:; or contact UCOWR at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, (618) 536-7571 or

Jun. 22-25, 2015, Raleigh, N.C.: Connecting the Dots: Environmental Quality to Climate.  108th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Air & Waste Management Association.  More information:

Jul. 12-15, 2015, Providence, R.I.: Financing, Funding & Rates for the Future of Clean Water.  Summer Conference of the 45th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.  More information:

Jul. 14-16, 2015, North Bethesda, Md.: 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.  Organized by the American Chemical Society.  More information:

Jul. 26-28, 2015, San Jose, Calif.: Nutrient Symposium 2015.  Organized by the Water Environment Federation, the Water Environment Research Foundation, and the California Water Environment Association.  More information:

Jul. 26-29, 2015, Greensboro, N.C.: Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Annual Conference.  More information:

Aug. 5-7, 2015, Wenatachee, Wash.: Watershed Management Conference.  Organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  More information:; (800) 548-2723.

Aug. 16-20, 2015, Portland, Ore.: American Fisheries Society Annual Conference.  More information:

Sep. 20-22, 2015, Little Rock, Ark: National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource.  Organized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  More information:

Sep. 24-26, 2015, National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, W. Va.: Chesapeake Watershed Forum.  Organized by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.  More information:; (804) 775-0951 (Virginia office) or

Oct. 7-9, 2015, Las Vegas, Nev.: 8th WaterSmart Innovations Conference.  Organized by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and several partners.  More information:; (702) 862-3400

Oct. 13-14, 2015, St. Paul, Minn.  Annual conference of the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center.  More information:; Nicole Freese, (612) 624-3708.

Nov. 1-5, 2015, Salt Lake City: Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America Annual Meeting.   More information:

Nov. 16-19, 2015, Denver, Colorado: 2015 American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Annual Conference.  More information:

Annual Events
(Shown is the month each year when the event is normally held; specific dates change each year.)

March, Raleigh, N.C.: Annual Conference of the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina.  More information:

March, Lincoln, Neb.:  Annual symposium of the Nebraska Water Center.  More information:; (402) 472-3305;

March, in Lincoln, Neb.: Annual Nebraska Water Law Conference.  Organized by the Nebraska Water Center and the University of Nebraska  College of Law.  More information:; (402) 472-3305;

March or April, in different locations –  National Hurricane Conference.  More information:

April, in Washington, D.C.: National Environmental Policy Forum.  Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Water Environment Federation, and Water Environment Research Foundation.  More information:

April, in Rapid City, S.D.: Western South Dakota Hydrology Meeting. Organized by the U.S. Geological Survey’s South Dakota Water Science Center and several partners.  More information:; Janet Carter, (605) 394-3215 or

Stream Restoration Workshop Series to be held Apr.-Sept. 2015 by North Carolina State University

From April through September 2015, North Carolina State University’s Stream Restoration Program will hold a series of workshops covering a wide range of topics related to streams and their restoration, including channel morphology and design, vegetation, aquatic insects, hydraulics, pollution, and ecology.  Continuing-education credits are available for professional engineers, land surveyors, landscape architects and foresters.

The workshop schedule is as follows:
Apr. 1-3, Asheville: RC 101: Stream Morphology & Assessment.
May 6-8, Asheville: RC 201: Natural Channel Design Principles.
May 12-14, Raleigh, Goldsboro, and Beaufort: RC 522: Coastal Plain Tour & Evaluation.
Jun. 1-2, Banner Elk: RC 131: Assessment & Identification of Riparian Vegetation.
Jul. 8-10, Raleigh: RC 302: Hydraulic Modeling for Stream Restoration.
Sep. 15-17, Asheville: RC 161: Taxonomy & Pollution Ecology of Aquatic Insects.

For more information, click on the individual links above or go to; or contact Cathy Smith at (919) 515-6780 or

Information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at

Oil-train Derailment on February 16, 2015, along Kanawha River in Mount Carbon, West Va.: Summary, Information Sources, and News Accounts

On February 16, 2015, 27 cars in a 109-car (two locomotives and 107 tanker cars), CSX oil-transport train derailed along the Kanawha River near Mount Carbon, West Virginia.  The train was carrying oil from the Bakken shale area of North Dakota to Yorktown, Va.  According to a Feb. 18, news release from the U.S. Coast Guard, 27 cars derailed, 19 cars were involved in fires, and no cars entered the Kanawha (although early news reports indicated that one tanker car had fallen into the river).  Much of the oil ignited immediately (and was still burning as of Feb. 18), but some was suspected of reaching the ground or a nearby tributary to the Kanawha.  Accordingly, responders placed containment booms and began monitoring along the Kanawha and the tributary.

The Coast Guard’s February 18 news release reported that a “unified command” had been established to respond to the incident, consisting of the Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CSX, the West Virginia departments of Environmental Protection and Military Affairs & Public Safety, the National Guard, and local agencies.

Ongoing Sources of Information
U.S. Coast Guard News Releases, online at

CSX Corporation News Releases, online at

West Virginia Governor’s Office news releases, online at

National Transportation Safety Board “Investigations” Web page, (no information had been posted on this incident as of 2/19/15, but this will be the place to find that information if and when NTSB begins an investigation).

News accounts and news releases since 2/16/15
(listed from most recent to oldest)

Train wreck raises specter of Richmond evacuations, Style Weekly [Richmond, Va.], 2/17/15.

Unified Command established for West Virginia Train Derailment; Response continues, U.S. Coast Guard News Release, 2/18/15

NTSB Gathering Information on CSX Crude Oil Train Derailment in West Virginia, National Transportation Safety Board News Release, 2/17/15

Spilled Oil Keeps Flames Burning After a Train Derailment in West Virginia, New York Times, 2/17/15

Once again, a crude oil train derails, burns on its way to Yorktown terminal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/17/15

West Virginia train derailment sends oil tanker into river, Associated Press, as published by Washington Post, 2/16/15

Crude oil train derails in Fayette County, WV, Charleston [West Va.] Daily Mail, 2/16/15.

2014 Had Highest Average Global Temperature in Modern Record, According to NASA and NOAA Analyses Announced in January 2015

On January 16, 2015, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that separate analyses by scientists at the two agencies determined that 2014 had the highest average global temperature since 1880, the period of instrumental record.  The result means that the 10 warmest years in that historical record have occurred since 1998.  Both agencies based their analyses on measurements from about 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations to estimate the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.  According to NASA’s news release, “[s]ince 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere.  The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.”

The data set of 2014 surface temperature measurements is available online  NASA’s Web site for earth science is  NOAA’s Web site is

Source: NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record, NASA News Release, 1/16/15.