Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending September 19, 2017, Plus an Overview of Flooding Nationwide and Mid-Month Drought Assessment

Below are several items summarizing recent precipitation and stream flow:

  1. Images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending September 19, 2017 (information available as of September 20).
  2. An excerpt from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force’s latest statewide assessment on September 18, 2017 and a map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of September 19.
  3. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of September 20.

The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images. For the current month’s other weekly reports on stream flow and precipitation, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Virginia+Precipitation.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the 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/.

GAGE Sep 2017 Wolf Creek near Narrows Sep4 2017 TWO

September 2017 Gaging Station of the Month: Wolf Creek near Narrows (Giles County), September 4, 2017. For the Virginia map of gaging sites, see https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/rt.

Precipitation

The following two color-coded maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation compared to normal for this period of the year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending September 19, 2017.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).  The maps were accessed 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.

precip Sep9precipperc Sep19

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at http://water.weather.gov/precip/.  The site provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years.  The site also has the capability to show county boundaries, and other map layers available include river flood forecasts and current flood/severe weather warnings.  Shown below is the continental U.S. 7-day precipitation map as of 8 a.m. EDT on 9/20/17.  The impact of Hurricane Irma on the southeastern United States is clear from this graph.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time and five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Precip US Sep20

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of September 19, 2017 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=map.  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 color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.  Note: Additional gaging stations (such as for reservoirs or for inactive sites) are shown on maps available at the USGS’ National Water Information System Mapper, online at https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/index.html.

Streams Sep19

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 11:55 a.m. EDT on September 19, 2017, 18 stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were either experiencing flooding or near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for Virginia and nearby areas.  The AHPS map for Virginia is shown below, along with the nationwide map as of the same time.  The maps are available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.

Flooding 01 USFlooding 02 US

Mid-month Drought Status Update

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its latest Virginia drought-status report on September 18, 2017.  The report is available at the DMTF Web site, http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force was scheduled to meet again on October 12, 2017.

Following is an excerpt from the September 18  report:

“Normal to below-normal temperatures prevailed across much of Virginia during the latter part of August and early September.  Precipitation amounts during this same period were highly variable.  Stream flow gaging stations reported flows that were generally within the normal range (between the 25th and 75th percentiles); with some stations in scattered locations across central, southern and western Virginia reporting below-normal flows.  Most of the wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells were reporting normal to above-normal levels, except for the wells in central Virginia, which continued to report below normal levels.  The DMTF agreed to recommend continuing the existing Drought Watch in the Northern Piedmont region, based upon a forecast for above-normal temperatures, below-normal precipitation and the continuing low groundwater levels with consequent potential for low base flows.

“For the current water year (October 1, 2016–September 15, 2017) precipitation totals remained below the drought watch indicator level for precipitation (85% of normal) for one of Virginia’s thirteen drought evaluation regions.  The Northern Piedmont region received 83% of normal precipitation for the current water year.”

The Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for September 19, 2017.  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

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending September 11, 2017, Plus an Overview of Flooding Nationwide

Below are several items summarizing recent precipitation and stream flow:

  1. Images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending September 11, 2017 (information available as of September 12).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of September 12.

The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing precipitation and stream-flow information and images. For the current month’s other weekly reports on stream flow and precipitation, please see the News Grouper posts available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Virginia+Precipitation.

For monthly reviews of precipitation, stream flow, and drought, please see the 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/.

GAGE Sep 2017 Wolf Creek near Narrows Sep4 2017 TWO

September 2017 Gaging Station of the Month: Wolf Creek near Narrows (Giles County), September 4, 2017. For the Virginia map of gaging sites, see https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/rt.

Precipitation

The following two color-coded maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation compared to normal for this period of the year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending September 12, 2017.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).  The maps were accessed 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.

precipSep11precippercSep11

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at http://water.weather.gov/precip/.  The site provides maps showing precipitation nationwide or by state for specific days, months, or years.  The site also has the capability to show county boundaries, and other map layers available include river flood forecasts and current flood/severe weather warnings.  Shown below is the continental U.S. 7-day precipitation map as of 8 a.m. EDT on 9/12/17.  The impact of Hurricane Irma on the southeastern United States is clear from this graph.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time and five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Precip US 7-day Sep12

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of September 11, 2017 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia, accessed online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa07d&r=va&w=map.  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 color codes/percentile classes used by USGS are as shown in the chart following the map.  Note: Additional gaging stations (such as for reservoirs or for inactive sites) are shown on maps available at the USGS’ National Water Information System Mapper, online at https://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/index.html.

Streams Sep11

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 2:15 p.m. EDT on September 12, 2017, 9 stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were either experiencing flooding or near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for Virginia and nearby areas.  The AHPS map for Virginia is shown below, along with the nationwide map as of the same time.  The maps are available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.

Flooding 01 VAFlood 02 US

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2017, 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 2017.  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.

01 Icon Precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for August 2017 at 11 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  

August 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal September 2016-August 2017 Observed Annual Normal
Blacksburg 2.50 3.59 43.23 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

2.21 3.26 40.00 39.63
Bristol2

 

6.28 3.47 46.54 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

3.18 3.62 34.96 42.71
Danville

 

4.07 3.97 44.67 44.41
Lynchburg

 

2.24 3.26 36.11 41.57
Norfolk

 

9.04 5.52 65.03 46.53
Richmond

 

5.94 4.66 48.36 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.31 3.56 42.40 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

10.86 4.19 59.89 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 3.83 3.53 40.33 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, 2017.

Precip30 Aug31Precip60Aug31Precip90Aug31

02 Icon Streamflow
According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for August 2017 at 154 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:

normal historical range – about 67% of gages;
below normal – about 16%;
much below normal – about 5%;
above normal – about 10%;
much above normal – about 2%.

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map on 9/5/17.  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 Augstream codes 

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 August 31, 2017, accessed on 9/1/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams plot Aug
03 Icon Groundwater
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).

04 Icon DroughtDROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for August 29, 2017, categorized 19.7% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” (including some of the James River basin, a north-south band in the center of state from about Richmond to Southside, and part of the upper Roanoke and upper Shenandoah basins).

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:
7/25/17 – 32.4% abnormally dry;
6/27/17 – 0.9% abnormally dry;
5/30/17 – drought-free;
8/30/16 – 5.3% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 9/6/17) Drought Status Report on August 14, 2017.  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 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 Task Force is next scheduled to meet on September 14, 2017.

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for August 31, 2017.  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 Aug31DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The August 29, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 25.8% of the United States (including all or parts of 38 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.8% of the country (including parts of 8 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:
7/25/17 – 33.8% abnormally dry or worse, 4.4% severe drought or worse;
6/27/17 – 23.2% abnormally dry or worse, 2.7% severe drought or worse;
5/30/17 – 20.7% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
8/30/16 – 37.7% abnormally dry or worse; 6.1% severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more categorized by the August 29 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
Montana – 60%;
North Dakota – 53%.

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 September 1, 2017.

Drought outlook Aug31

Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee Final Report Released in August 2017

On August 4, 2017, the final report of the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee was transmitted to the chair of the Virginia State Water Commission and the director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  A link to the final report, along with other information about the work of the Advisory Committee, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/EasternVirginiaGroundwaterManagementAdvisoryCommittee.aspx.

The 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed HB 1924 and SB 1341, companion bills that established this Advisory Committee to assist the State Water Commission and the DEQ in developing, revising, and implementing a management strategy for groundwater in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.

The Advisory Committee’s report includes 12 main recommendations, summarized below from pages 9-10 of the report’s Executive Summary:
*Commonwealth to support storage, recovery, and recharge projects;
*Commonwealth to promote development of alternative water sources;
*General Assembly to lengthen the maximum groundwater permit time to 15 years;
*General Assembly to establish incentives for voluntary regional planning efforts;
*General Assembly to create incentives for local government and wellowners to connect to public water supply systems when reasonably available;
*General Assembly to require new non-agricultural irrigation wells only from unconfined aquifers in the Easter Virginia Groundwate Management Area (EVGMA);
*General assembly to encourage use of ponds, including stormwater ponds, for agricultural irrigation;
*DEQ to establish an annual “State of the Water Resources” forum;
*General Assembly to authorize a groundwater banking system;
*General Assembly to direct DEQ to create a framework for an EVGMA groundwater-trading program;
*General Assembly provide funding for a “robust” groundwater management program (directed particularly at seven listed priority activities);
*General Assembly to “fund the essential operation of DEQ to successfully manage the groundwater resources.”

Following are links to some news items on information contained in or related to the advisory committee’s report (listed from newest to oldest):
East of I-95, Virginia Begins to Limit Permitted Groundwater Users, WVTF FM-Roanoke, 8/9/17.
Virginia tightens spigot on big water users to stem Potomac Aquifer decline, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 8/5/17.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of July 2017, 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 2017.  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.

01 Icon Precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for July 2017 at 11 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 July 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal August 2016-

July 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 3.31 4.26 45.24 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

4.89 4.17 40.97 39.63
Bristol2

 

4.28 4.69 43.49 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

3.84 4.32 34.48 42.71
Danville

 

4.61 4.59 45.54 44.41
Lynchburg

 

3.30 4.36 35.06 41.57
Norfolk

 

4.41 5.14 60.74 46.53
Richmond

 

2.25 4.51 42.95 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.07 4.04 44.55 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

5.68 4.09 50.88 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 8.80 3.67 37.46 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 July 31, 2017.

Precip perc 30 Jul31Precip perc 60 Jul31Precip perc 90 Jul31 

02 Icon Streamflow
According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, average stream flows for the 28-day period ending July 31, 2017, at 159 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border measured as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:
*in the normal historical range: about 65% of gages;
*below normal: about 18%;
*much below normal: about 4%;
*above normal: about 6%;
*much above normal: about 7%.

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa28d&r=va&w=map on 8/1/17.  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 28 daysstream codes 

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 July 29, 2017, accessed on 8/1/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams Plot July

03 Icon Groundwater
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).

 04 Icon Drought

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for July 25, 2017, categorized 32.4% of Virginia as “abnormally dry.”  This was the highest abnormally dry rating for Virginia since the week of April 25, 2017.

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:
6/27/17 – 0.9% abnormally;
5/30/17 – drought-free;
4/25/17 – 46.4% abnormally dry or worse, 16.0% moderate drought;
7/26/16 – 5.5% abnormally dry.

Here are some comments on Virginia conditions from the July 25, 2017, Drought Monitor:
…[P]ersistent dryness over the last 1-2 months, low streamflow, and growing agricultural impacts resulted in the expansion of D0 in much of Virginia, where the percent of the state experiencing short or very short (dry or very dry) topsoil moisture rose from 42% last week to 59% this week.  A fourth (26%) of Virginia’s pasture and range land was rated in poor to very poor condition by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as of July 23.”

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 8/1/17) Drought Status Report on July 17, 2017.  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 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 July 17 report:

“Above normal temperatures prevailed across much of Virginia during the first half of July, but precipitation varied considerably across the Commonwealth.  July rainfall has been well below normal in southwestern and central Virginia.  Stream flow gaging stations across the Commonwealth are reporting widely varying flows, with the lowest occurring in the James River basin.  Most of the wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells are reporting normal to above-normal levels, except for the wells in central Virginia, which continue to report below-normal levels.  The DMTF agreed to recommend continuing the existing Drought Watch in the Northern Piedmont region, based upon the continued low groundwater levels and consequent low base flows between storm events.

“For the current water year (October 1, 2016–July13, 2017) precipitation totals are below the July drought watch indicator level for precipitation (85% of normal) for one of Virginia’s thirteen drought-evaluation regions: the Northern Piedmont region has received 77% of normal precipitation for the current water year.…

“The Virginia Department of Forestry noted that in some areas of Virginia, Keetch-Byram Drought Index values are approaching levels where prescribed burning is suspended due to dry conditions. …

“As of July 2017, one waterworks is implementing voluntary water-use restrictions in Virginia: The Town of Strasburg [in Shenandoah County]…implemented voluntary restrictions based on the 7-day running average of stream flows in North Fork Shenandoah River on July 7th.  The running average was measured at 142 cubic feet per second (cfs), which is below the 175 cfs voluntary restriction trigger set by DEQ.  However, the reservoir is full and source capacity is not currently affected.  The Town serves a population of approximately 6,489 people.”

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The July 25, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 33.8% of the United States (including all or parts of 36 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.4% of the country (including parts of 11 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:
6/27/17 – 23.2% abnormally dry or worse, 2.7% severe drought or worse;
5/30/17 – 20.7% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
4/25/17 – 23.6% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
7/26/16 – 46.1% abnormally dry or worse; 6.0% severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more categorized by the July 25 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
North Dakota – 61%;
South Dakota – 54%.

Following are some more comments from the July 25 Drought Monitor on conditions in several parts of the country:

Midwest
…[T]the drought areas that needed the rain received below-normal to no precipitation.  D2 was added to Iowa, D0-D1 expanded in Iowa, and D0 expanded in much of Missouri and parts of Illinois in response to dryness and heat that has persisted over the last 2 to 2 months. The state climatologists of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri noted that significant agricultural impacts were developing.”

South
…“D0-D2 expanded in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, reflecting dryness and heat of the last 2 months….”

High Plains
“Half an inch or more of rain fell across parts of the Dakotas this week, but the rain did little to improve drought conditions, only holding off drought expansion or intensification. ….But expansion occurred in other parts of the region.  Much of Montana and parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas had no rain this week; some areas have been drier than normal for the last 2 to 3 months; and some drought indicators reflect dryness for the last 12 months. …Governors provided much-needed response to the dire drought impacts.  Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order declaring a drought disaster in 28 counties and five Indian reservations in the eastern part of the state.  Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts issued an emergency proclamation, allowing the state Emergency Management Agency to address unmet drought needs, particularly those related to wildfires.  …According to media reports, as of July 25th, the Lodgepole Complex wildfire in Montana was the largest wildfire in the [continental United States].”

West
“In the Southwest, several inches of rain fell with monsoon showers and thunderstorms in much of Arizona and parts of New Mexico, with 1-2 inches common across parts of western Colorado. …No rain fell this week across most of the Northwest and northern Rockies, with only a tenth of an inch or two tenths recorded at coastal stations in Oregon and Washington, and at a few stations in the Rockies.  The continued dryness further eroded soil moisture….  A fifth of the pasture and rangeland was rated in poor to very poor condition in Washington (22%) and Oregon (20%). …Numerous large wildfires have broken out in this area….”

Hawaii and Alaska
“Reports of worsening drought conditions have been received by the National Weather Service in Hawaii.  The Department of Water Supply put Upcountry Maui into a Stage 1 water shortage last week, which requests conservation of public water use.  …Agricultural impacts were worsening on the Big Island, including impacts to sweet potato farmers on the windward side and poor condition of pastures and vegetation in the interior. …In Alaska, Nome had its wettest July day on record on the 23rd, with 1.74 inches of rain.  The previous record had been 1.68 inches on July 21, 1920, and July 19, 1953….”

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 August 1, 2017.

Drought outlook August

 

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of June 2017, 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 June 2017.  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.

01 Icon Precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for June 2017 at 11 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 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal July 2016-

June 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 2.91 4.00 46.79 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

4.16 4.14 41.63 39.63
Bristol2

 

2.06 3.90 42.10 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

2.77 3.73 33.64 42.71
Danville

 

4.42 3.85 45.00 44.41
Lynchburg

 

2.09 3.62 37.76 41.57
Norfolk

 

3.27 4.26 66.66 46.53
Richmond

 

2.33 3.93 45.17 43.60
Roanoke

 

4.50 3.83 48.03 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.43 3.29 50.07 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.28 3.98 31.68 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 June 30, 2017.

Precipperc30JunPrecipperc60JunPrecipperc90Jun.jpg

02 Icon Streamflow

According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia, average stream flows for the 28-day period through July 2, 2017,  at 153 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal historical range at about 67% of gages, below normal at about 9%, above normal at about 22%, and much above normal at about 2%.  Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa28d&r=va&w=map on 7/3/17.  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 28 day July 2 stream codes

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 30, 2017, accessed on July 3 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams plot Jun30

03 Icon Groundwater

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).

04 Icon Drought

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for June 27, 2017, categorized 0.9% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” (in Arlington and Fairfax counties).

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:
5/30/17 – drought-free;
4/25/17 – 46.4% abnormally dry or worse, 16.0% moderate drought;
3/28/17 – 61.0% abnormally dry or worse, 41.0% moderate drought or worse, 2.2% in severe drought;
6/28/16 – 3% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 7/1/17) Drought Status Report on June 21, 2017.  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 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 Task Force is next scheduled to meet on July 13, 2017.  Following is an excerpt from the June 21 report:

“Above normal precipitation during May and the first half of June eliminated dry surface conditions across Virginia.  Stream flow gaging stations across the Commonwealth are reporting normal to above-normal flows.  Most of the wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells are also reporting normal to above-normal levels.  However, levels in the network well representing the Northern Piedmont drought-evaluation region continue to be well below normal.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a drought Watch for this region and for the Northern Virginia drought-evaluation region on March 22, 2017.  The Task Force recommended the removal of the Drought Watch within the Northern Virginia region based on the improvement in all drought indicators in that area.  The DMTF also agreed to recommend continuing the Drought Watch in the Northern Piedmont region, based upon continued low groundwater levels and consequent low base flows between storm events.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for June 27, 2017.  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 Jun27

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The June 27, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 23.2% of the United States (including all or parts of 34 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 2.7% of the country (including parts of 7 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:
5/30/17 – 20.7% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
4/25/17 – 23.6% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
3/28/17 – 34.9% abnormally dry or worse, 2.4% severe drought or worse;
6/28/16 – 40.8% abnormally dry or worse; 4.6% severe drought or worse.

Following are some more comments from the June 27 Drought Monitor on conditions in several parts of the country (bolding added).

Nationwide Summary
“All substantial precipitation over the past week fell over the eastern half and southern portion of the United States.  Tropical Storm Cindy played a large role. The storm made landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border on June 22, bringing heavy rains and subsequent flooding to parts of the South and the Ohio Valley.”

Northeast
“The western areas of this region saw precipitations totals of 1 to 3 inches with less in the eastern areas, the exception being along the track of the remnants of Cindy.  …The remnants of Cindy brought substantial rainfall to southeast Ohio…and northern West Virginia, enough to support the removal of all D0 in this area.  No drought indicators show dryness at any of the shorter timescales here.  …Abnormal dryness also extended south through Washington D.C. into Arlington and part of Fairfax Counties in Virginia.  Generally, many mid-Atlantic pastures turned brown during the recent heat wave and remain brown in areas where Cindy didn’t provide much rain.”

Southeast
“Moisture from Tropical Storm Cindy brought widespread heavy rains to alleviate lingering drought and dryness in several locations.   The rain was enough to wash away all D1 and substantially shrink the remaining abnormally dry region in northwestern Alabama into northeastern Mississippi.  …In Florida, the wet season, which is typically from June to November, began on time and with a lot of moisture.  …Although there are some areas of lingering dryness in northern, central, and southern Georgia, only a small pocket of D1 remains, in southern White County in the northeast.”

South
“The 3-6 inches of rain in northwestern Louisiana effectively wiped out the dry region from Bienville to Caddo Parishes.  Unfortunately, this past week’s rain was inadequate to ameliorate large deficits loom since the beginning of May in Oklahoma, with the prime rainy season (May through mid-June) disappointing for much of the state, especially central Oklahoma.  …On-the-ground observations indicate that stock ponds are rapidly shrinking and grass is turning yellow.  Local fire weather experts report that much of central Oklahoma began transitioning from live to dead fire fuel weeks ago….”

High Plains
“…North Platte, Nebraska,…tied a June record on the 21st, reaching 107°F.  …The most deterioration…occurred in the Dakotas, especially northwestern South Dakota and North Dakota, where the rapidly worsening conditions warranted expansion of moderate, severe, and extreme drought to many regions.”

West
“…States along the Pacific Coast are still seeing surpluses given the heavy rains and large snowpacks earlier this year.  Thus no changes were made to most of the area, the exception being eastern Montana.  Conditions [there]…have deteriorated quickly over the past few weeks and this flash drought will continue to be monitored closely in the midst of the growing season.”

Hawaii
“…[S]table conditions continue to keep things dry overall across the Islands.  With less rainfall over the past 4 to 6 weeks, the Big Island is seeing the most impacts related to the dryness. Reports from the FSA indicate worsening conditions with ranchers having to destock pastures and haul water for their herds. Even on the normally wetter east side of the Big Island, field reports indicate drying vegetation and lowering stream levels.”

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 30, 2017.
Drought US Outlook Jun

 

Virginia Campground Regulations Undergoing Periodic Review in 2016-17; Public Hearing Held June 20, 2017, in Richmond

In summer 2017, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Board of Health are considering revisions to the Commonwealth’s regulations governing campgrounds, including regulations for water supplies, wastewater facilities, solid-waste disposal, swimming facilities, pest control, and other environmental health aspects.  A public hearing on the proposed regulations was held June 20, 2017, at the Perimeter Center, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond; the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for that meeting is online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26040.

The proposed regulatory changes are part of a periodic review begun in 2016.  According to the VDH “Action Summary” (online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4554&display=stages), “The intent of this regulatory action is to amend the regulations, to address current camping practices, update terminology, and remove or replace outdated requirements.”  The regulations are at Section 12 VAC 5‑450 in the Virginia Administrative Code.  The proposed changes were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on May 29, 2017.  The public comment period ended July 28, 2017.  More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=7790.