Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2015, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought, as of the end of August 2015. T  he 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, 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: Please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

Precipitation Icon by George WillsHere are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for August 2015 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the normal 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 normal annual precipitation for each location. All values are in inches.

Location August 2015
Precipitation

 

Normal for Month Sept. 2014-Aug 2015 Precipitation

 

Normal Annual Precipitation
Blacksburg 4.09 3.59 40.89 40.89
Bluefield1 2.39 3.26 39.18 39.63
Bristol2 6.01 3.47 42.25 41.01
Charlottesville3 2.43 3.62 37.50 42.71
Danville 3.06 3.97 41.70 44.41
Lynchburg 1.98 3.26 35.48 41.57
Norfolk 1.85 5.52 51.00 46.53
Richmond 2.77 4.66 42.76 43.60
Roanoke 3.09 3.56 42.28 41.25
Wallops Island4 2.67 4.19 41.52 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.09 3.53 37.14 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 Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.
3 – The Charlottesville location is the (Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
4 – Wallops Island is in Accomack County.
5 – Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation sources: Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk);
Morristown, Tenn. (http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx
Baltimore-Washington (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.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 Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, 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 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 Southeast Regional Climate Center’s preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through August 31, 2015.

30 Day Precip Perc60 day precip perc90 day precip perc 

Stream flow icon by George Wills

According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=real%2Cmap), monthly average stream flow values for August 2015 at 131 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 71% of gages, below normal at about 27%, and above normal at about 2%. 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 shown in the chart below the map.

Streams AugustKEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph 

Drought Watch icon by George Wills

 DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for August 25, 2015, showed Virginia as having about 7% of its area as abnormally dry, located in several localities along the North Carolina border in southeastern Virginia. This was the first report of any drought in Virginia since the Drought Monitor for June 30, 2015. The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.” 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:
7/28/15 – drought-free;
6/30/15 – 13% abnormally dry;
5/26/15 – 32% abnormally dry;
8/26/14 – 9% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on July 16, 2015. A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx. The next report is scheduled for September 2015. 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 drought-status indicators. Shown below is the map for August 31, 2015. 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.” Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

Drought Virginia Aug 31

MORE ON GROUNDWATER LEVELS

More 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; and from the USGS Climate Response Network, online at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/net/ogwnetwork.asp?ncd=crn (at that page, you can find a national map showing the status of groundwater monitoring wells compared to historical values).

 DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

 The August 25, 2015, U.S. Drought Monitor rated 49.2% of the United States (including all or parts of 44 states, plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse. It rated 15.1% of the country (including all or parts of 18 states, plus Puerto Rico), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4; the highest percentage in these categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country during the week of August 7, 2012).

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:
7/28/15 – 44.2% abnormally dry or worse; 14.4% severe drought or worse;
6/30/15 – 41.7% abnormally dry or worse; 13.0% severe drought or worse;
5/26/15 – 46.4% abnormally dry or worse; 11.9% severe drought or worse;
8/26/14 – 39.9% abnormally dry or worse; 18.0% severe drought or worse.

In the following states, over 50% of the state was categorized by the 8/25/15 report as being in severe-or-worse drought.

California – 92% (with 71% in extreme or exceptional drought).  California has had over 80% of its area categorized in severe-or-worse drought every week since June 25, 2013, and the Golden State had 100% in those categories from May 13—July 29, 2014. California’s current drought began in late 2011 to early 2012. Here’s a link to an Associated Press story on how the drought has led to an increase in land subsidence, resulting in significant increased costs to roads and other infrastructure: California land quickly sinking in drought costs farmers, 8/20/15.

Nevada – 76% (with 38% in extreme or exceptional drought).  Nevada has had over 50% of its area in severe-or-worse drought since the week of March 27, 2012.

Oregon – 100% (with 67% in extreme drought).

Washington – almost 100% (with 85% in extreme drought).

Oregon and Washington have had 100% of their area (99.99% in the case of Washington) in severe-or-worse drought since the week of July 28, 2015.

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.html. Shown below is the outlook map available on September 1, 2015.

Drought Outlook US Aug

Water-related Items in Virginia Governor’s Office News Releases for August 2015: Fort Monroe Deed Transfer; Loans for Tazewell County July 2015 Flood Damages; Community Development Block Grants; and Coalfield Economic Development Partnership for Increasing Mining-related Exports.

Following are titles and short excerpts from four Virginia Governor’s Office news releases in August 2015, which relate to water resources or to other natural resource uses (like land use) with significant potential to affect water.  To access the full text of any release, click on the release title.

Governor McAuliffe Signs Deed to Transfer Fort Monroe Land to National Park Service, 8/25/15.   Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed a deed that transfers land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service, solidifying Virginia’s commitment to turning the fort into a national monument for the enjoyment of tourists and history-buffs from all over the Commonwealth and country. … The document formally and legally finalizes the transfer of land at Fort Monroe from the Commonwealth of Virginia to the National Park Service. … The land transfer preserves a group of significant landmarks at Fort Monroe that highlight some of our nation’s most important events. Robert E. Lee lived at the Fort and helped design and construct the stone fortification. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in a Fort casemate. Harriet Tubman spent time at the Fort after the Civil War, and Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there as a young soldier. The Fort also tells the significant story of the beginning and the end of slavery in the United States. … The deed signing marks the culmination of years of hard work by state leaders, the City of Hampton, the National Park Service, the historic preservation community, the National Park Conservation Association, and the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park. To learn more about Fort Monroe, visit http://www.nps.gov/fomr/index.htm.”

SBA Low-Interest Loans Available to Help Tazewell County Residents and Businesses Affected by July Floods, 8/20/15.   Excerpt: “…[T]he U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is making low-interest disaster loans available to homeowners, businesses, and private, non-profit organizations in Tazewell County to help them recover from severe flooding that occurred on July 5 [2015]. … Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to help repair their home to its pre-disaster condition. Personal property loans are also available for homeowners or renters with up to $40,000 to help repair or replace personal items, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles. Businesses that suffered damage can receive loans up to $2 million to help repair or replace damaged property or provide working capital.”

Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $8.2 Million in Community Development Block Grants, 8/18/15.   Excerpt: Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced more than $8.2 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for 12 projects in Virginia. Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program. … CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process.  Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons, and many projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of slums and blight conditions. During this year’s competitive cycle, 22 proposals were submitted by 21 localities, and 11 projects received the initial funding, with two projects receiving multi-year funding and one project receiving a letter of intent.” The three water-related 2015 award recipients and grant amounts are as follows:
Buchanan County, Hurley Regional Water Project Phase VI, $1,000,000; Dickenson County, Georges Fork Sewer Project, $1,000,000;
Wise County, Phase II Sewer Project for Roda, Osaka, and Stonega, $690,000.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Partnership with Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, 8/7/15.   Excerpt: “Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the Go Global with Coal & Energy Technology (GGCET) program, a collaboration of the Governor’s Office, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) as a result of the Governor’s 2014 Energy Plan. … The GGCET program assists coal and energy technology companies in the Virginia coalfield region in expanding their international business.”

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending August 25, 2015

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending August 25, 2015.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status.

For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

Precipitation

The following maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation for the given location at this time of year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending August 25, 2015.  The maps were accessed on 8/26/15 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

Precip Aug25Precipperc Aug25

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years. The site also has the capability to show county boundaries.  Shown below are U.S. maps of precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the 7-day precipitation ending at 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 26, 2015.  (Please note that UTC, the time shown on the map below, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.)
PRecip US
precip perc US

Stream Flow

Average Virginia stream flow over the seven-day period ending August 25, 2015, is indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=mv01d%2Cmap on 8/26/15.  The map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The “bluer” the color of the dots, the higher the percentile and flow relative to normal for the site and time of year; the “redder” the dots, the lower the percentile and flow relative to normal.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.

Streams Aug 25KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending August 18, 2015, Plus a Mid-Month Drought Assessment

Precipitation (online, do as Heading 4, bold, darkest blue color)

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending August 18, 2015.  Also below is a map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of August 19.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status.

For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

Precipitation

The following maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation for the given location at this time of year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending August 18, 2015.  The maps were accessed on 8/19/15 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).
Precip Aug18Precip perc Aug 18

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years. The site also has the capability to show county boundaries. Shown below are U.S. maps of precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the 7-day precipitation ending at 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 19, 2015. (Please note that UTC, the time shown on the map below, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.)

full.phpprecipperc us

Stream Flow

Average Virginia stream flow over the seven-day period ending August 18, 2015, is indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=mv01d%2Cmap on 8/19/15.  The map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The “bluer” the color of the dots, the higher the percentile and flow relative to normal for the site and time of year; the “redder” the dots, the lower the percentile and flow relative to normal. The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.

streams Aug 18KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Mid-month Drought Status Update

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators. Shown below is the August 19, 2015, map.  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.”  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.

Drought VA Aug 19

Two Virginia Water Resources Studies Called for by 2015 General Assembly: 1) Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee Convenes Aug. 18, 2015; 2) JLARC to Study Groundwater and Surface Water Planning and Management

The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed two sets of bills that call for examination of various aspects of Virginia’s water resources.

Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee

First, the General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee.  The Committee is to assist the State Water Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.   The Committee’s first meeting is 8/18/15, 1 p.m., at the DEQ’s Piedmont Regional Office, 4949-A Cox Road in Glen Allen.

The bills state that the Advisory Committee is to examine the following:
(i) options for developing long-term alternative water sources, including water reclamation and reuse, ground water recharge, desalination, and surface water options, including creation of storage reservoirs;
(ii) the interaction between the Department of Environmental Quality’s ground water management programs and local and regional water supply plans within the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area for purposes of determining water demand and possible solutions for meeting that demand;
(iii) potential funding options both for study and for implementation of management options;
(iv) alternative management structures, such as a water resource trading program, formation of a long-term ground water management committee, and formation of a commission;
(v) additional data needed to more fully assess aquifer health and sustainable ground water management strategies;
(vi) potential future ground water permitting criteria; and
(vii) other policies and procedures that the director of the [DEQ] determines may enhance the effectiveness of ground water management in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.”

The Committee is to provide its report by August 2017.

More information about the Advisory Committee is available online at http://deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity.aspx; more information about groundwater management areas in Virginia is available online at http://www.deq.state.va.us/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterPermitting.aspx.

Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission Study of Virginia’s Water Resources Planning and Management

The 2015 General Assembly also passed HJ 623, which directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study Virginia’s water resource planning and management, particularly with regard to groundwater. The resolution called for the JLARC study to consider and assess the following:
i) the extent to which groundwater and surface water consumption is unsustainable, the potential effects of any unsustainable consumption, and the risk of over-consumption in the future;
ii) the effectiveness of the state’s permitting process for groundwater and surface water withdrawals; …the effectiveness of state and local water resource planning, particularly with regard to groundwater, including the role state and local plans play in water withdrawal permitting;
iii) the adequacy of current funding and staff levels for managing Virginia’s water resources;
iv) the need for strategies and practices to preserve or increase the amount of groundwater and surface water available for future consumption; and
v) any other issues and, make any other recommendations, as appropriate.

As of August 17, 2015, the JLARC study had not yet started.  Information on the current status of JLARC studies is available online at http://jlarc.virginia.gov/projectstatus.asp.

News Articles on One or Both Studies
(Listed from most recent to oldest; hyperlinks were working at the time of posting, but they may not be later.)

New panel looks at why underground water is disappearing east of Interstate 95, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/18/15.

Groundwater Management Committee to be watched closely by James City County, Virginia Gazette, 8/14/15.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending August 11, 2015

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending August 11, 2015.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Monthly+Water+Status.

For more information on current and historical surface-water and groundwater conditions in Virginia, please see the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Virginia Science Center’s Web site, http://va.water.usgs.gov/.

Precipitation

The following maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation for the given location at this time of year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending August 11, 2015.  The maps were accessed on August 12 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southeast Regional Climate Center, located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; online at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

Precip Aug11Precip perc Aug 11

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years.  The site also has the capability to show county boundaries.  Shown below are maps of precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the 7-day precipitation ending at 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 12, 2015.  (Please note that UTC, the time shown on the map below, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.)  Precip US Aug 12Precip perc US Aug 12

Stream Flow

Average Virginia stream flow over the seven-day period ending August 11, 2015, is indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=mv01d%2Cmap on August 12.  For 141 stream-gaging stations in Virginia and just beyond the state border, the map’s color-coded dots compare the previous week’s average stream flows to the normal flow levels for that week over the historical record for each gaging station.  The “bluer” the color of the dots, the higher the percentile and flow relative to normal for the site and time of year; the “redder” the dots, the lower the percentile and flow relative to normal.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.

Streams Aug 11KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of July 2015, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water status report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought, as of the end of July 2015. 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, 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.

Precipitation Icon by George WillsHere are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for July 2015 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the normal 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 normal annual precipitation for each location. All values are in inches.

Location July 2015

Precipitation

 

Normal for Month Aug. 2014-July 2015 Precipitation

 

Normal Annual Precipitation
Blacksburg 4.26 4.26 42.75 40.89
Bluefield (Merc. Co. airport, near Va.-W.Va. state line) 5.14 4.17 43.20 39.63
Bristol (Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va.-Tenn.) 5.79 4.69 40.45 41.01
Charlottesville (Char.-Albemarle Airport) 4.01 4.32 39.4 42.71
Danville 7.24 4.59 44.87 44.41
Lynchburg 3.79 4.36 38.28 41.57
Norfolk 7.93 5.14 52.16 46.53
Richmond 5.89 4.51 43.60 43.60
Roanoke 4.29 4.04 45.72 41.25
Wallops Island (Accomack County) 4.41 4.09 43.33 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport (Loudoun County) 4.89 3.67 41.20 41.54

Precipitation sources: Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk)
Morristown, Tenn. (http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx
Baltimore-Washington (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.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 Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, 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 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 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, through August 3, 2015.Precipperc30daysAug3

Precipperc60daysAug3Precipperc90daysAug3

Stream flow icon by George Wills
According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/classic.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=real%2Cmap), monthly average stream flow values for July 2015 at 150 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 40% of gages, below normal at about 5%, above normal at about 34%, and much above normal at about 21%. 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 shown in the chart below the map.

Streams July 2015KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph


Drought Watch icon by George WillsDROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for July 28, 2015, showed Virginia as being drought-free, which has been the case since the Drought Monitor report for July 7, 2015. The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

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:
6/30/15 – 13% abnormally dry;
5/26/15 – 32% abnormally dry;
4/28/15 – drought-free;
7/29/14 – 27%abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on July 16, 2015. A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx. The next report is scheduled for September 2015. 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.

Following is an excerpt from the beginning of the July 16, 2015, report, summarizing statewide conditions at that time: “The typical summer pattern of scattered thunderstorms produced normal to above normal rainfall across Virginia over the past month. As a result, stream discharge rates have been normal to above normal depending upon local rainfall amounts. Groundwater levels in some of the Climate Response Network observation wells have continued a normal summer decline, while others, particularly in the eastern half of Virginia, have rebounded. Maps of precipitation as a percent of normal rainfall illustrate that most of Virginia has received normal or above-normal rainfall during the past 30, 60 and 90 days. A large area in southern Virginia within the upper portions of the New River and Roanoke River basins has received less than normal rainfall for the current water year (since October 1, 2014). Note that precipitation estimates based on radar in parts of northwestern Virginia along the Virginia-West Virginia border and on the boundary between the Upper James and Shenandoah drought-evaluation regions are generally considered to be underestimated due to that area’s distance from radar stations.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators. Shown below is the July 31, 2015. 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.” Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

Drought VA Jul31

MORE ON GROUNDWATER LEVELS

More 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; and from the USGS Climate Response Network, online at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/net/ogwnetwork.asp?ncd=crn (at that page, you can find a national map showing the status of groundwater monitoring wells compared to historical values).

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The July 28, 2015, Drought Monitor rated 44.2% of the United States (including all or parts of 38 states, plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse, and it rated 14.4% of the country (including all or parts of 15 states, plus Puerto Rico), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4). The abnormally dry or worse percentage increased sharply from just a week earlier—39.4% on 7/21/15—largely because during Alaska’s abnormally dry percentage increased from 57% to 71%.

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:
6/30/15 – 41.7% abnormally dry or worse; 13.0% severe drought or worse;
5/26/15 – 46.4% abnormally dry or worse; 11.9% severe drought or worse;
4/28/15 – 48.5% abnormally dry or worse; 16.7% severe drought or worse;
7/29/14 – 39.8% abnormally dry or worse; 19.0% severe drought or worse.

In the following states, over 50% of the state was categorized by the July 28 report as being in severe-or-worse drought.
California – 95% (with 71% in extreme or exceptional drought).  California has had over 80% of its area categorized in severe-or-worse drought every week since June 25, 2013, and the Golden State had 100% in those categories from May 13—July 29, 2014.  California’s current drought began in late 2011 to early 2012.
Idaho – 52% (with 22% in extreme drought).
Nevada – 76% (with 40% in extreme or exceptional drought).
Oregon – 100% (with 48% in extreme drought).
Washington – almost 100% (with 32% in extreme drought).

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.html. Shown below is the outlook map available on August 5, 2015.

Seasonal Drought Outlook