Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending July 18, 2017, Plus a Mid-Month Drought Assessment and 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 July 18, 2017 (information available as of July 19).
  2. An excerpt from the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force’s latest statewide assessment (July 17), and a map showing the status of several drought indicators in different Virginia regions, as of June 27.
  3. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of July 19.

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 Big Otter River near Ervington Rt 682 Campbell County Jun15 2017

July 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Big Otter River near Evington in Campbell County, Va., June 15, 2017.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/inventory/?site_no=02061500.

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 July 18, 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 Jul18Precip perc Jul18

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 7/18/17.  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.

Precipitation US Jul18

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of July 18, 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 Jul18

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 July 17, 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 August 10, 2017.

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.”

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

Flooding Overview

As of about 9 a.m. EDT on July 19, 2017, four stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of 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 VA Jul19Flooding US Jul19

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending July 10, 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 July 10, 2017 (information available as of July 11).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of July 11.

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 Big Otter River near Ervington Rt 682 Campbell County Jun15 2017

July 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Big Otter River near Evington in Campbell County, Va., June 15, 2017.  U.S. Geological Survey information from this gage is online at https://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/inventory/?site_no=02061500.

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 July 10, 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 Jul10

precipperc Jul10
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 7/11/17.  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 Jul11

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of July 10, 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 Jul10

stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 11 a.m. EDT on July 11, 2017, two stream-gaging stations in or near Virginia were near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of 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.
Flood VA Jul11
Flood US Jul11

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 to be 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 will be held June 20, 1 p.m.,  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 ends July 28, 2017.  More information on this regulatory process is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=7790.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of May 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 May 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 May 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 May 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal June 2016-

May 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 6.30 4.33 47.16 40.89
Bluefield1 6.78 4.31 40.87 39.63
Bristol2 7.78 3.80 41.96 41.01
Charlottesville3 8.78 3.98 34.62 42.71
Danville 6.04 3.88 48.28 44.41
Lynchburg 7.88 3.73 41.94 41.57
Norfolk 8.56 3.41 68.45 46.53
Richmond 7.57 3.78 50.65 43.60
Roanoke 8.14 4.06 49.56 41.25
Wallops Island4 5.66 2.95 55.13 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 8.49 4.55 36.75 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 May 31, 2017.

PrecipPerc30May31PrecipPerc60May31PrecipPerc90May31
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 May 2017 at 153 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal historical range at about 17% of gages, above normal at about 21%, and much above normal at about 62%.  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 map Maystream 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 May 29, 2017, accessed on June 1 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams Plot May31
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 May 30, 2017, showed Virginia as drought-free.  This was the first week that the Drought Monitor showed no areas of at least “abnormally dry” since the week of April 5, 2016.

Drought Monitor categories are as follows:
D0 = abnormally dry;
D1 = moderate drought;
D2 = severe drought;
D3 = extreme drought;
D4 = exceptional drought.

The Drought Monitor notes that it “focuses on broad-scale conditions [and] local conditions may vary.”

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
4/25/17 – 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;
2/28/17 – 80.5% abnormally dry or worse, 17.1% moderate drought or worse, 2.9% in severe drought;
5/31/16 – 2.5% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 6/2/17) Drought Status Report on May 12, 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 June 8, 2017.  Following is an excerpt from the May 12 report:
“Abundant precipitation during the first half of May reduced or eliminated dry conditions over most of Virginia.  Groundwater levels and water-year-to-date precipitation in two drought-evaluation regions, Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont, continue to be well below normal.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a drought Watch for these two regions on March 22, 2017.  Based on the remaining deficits in these areas, the task force agreed to continue the Drought Watch for now.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for May 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 May 31DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The May 30, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about 20.7% of the United States (including all or parts of 25 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated 0.94% of the country (including parts of 4 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
4/25/17 – 23.6% abnormally dry or worse, 0.92% severe drought or worse;
3/28/17 – 34.9% abnormally dry or worse, 2.4% severe drought or worse;
2/28/17 – 34.0% abnormally dry or worse, 3.1% severe drought or worse;
5/31/16 – 29.4% abnormally dry or worse; 3.6% severe drought or worse.

No state had 50% or more rated by the May 30 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought.  The highest percentage of those categories was in Florida, at about 38%.

In California, just over 1% of the state was rated on 5/30/17 as being in severe-or-worse drought.  This severe-or-worse rating, in effect since the week of March 14, 2017, was the lowest for the Golden State since the week of February 14, 2012.  Most of California is out of the drought that began in late 2011 to early 2012 and continued into early 2017.

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 May 31, 2017.
Drought US Outlook May31

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of April 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 April 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 April 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.  All values are in inches.

Location April 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal May 2016-

April 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 5.92 3.48 45.42 40.89
Bluefield1 4.59 3.34 40.35 39.63
Bristol2 5.16 3.33 38.16 41.01
Charlottesville3 2.80 3.36 31.37 42.71
Danville 7.54 3.46 49.81 44.41
Lynchburg 4.18 3.31 40.95 41.57
Norfolk 3.58 3.41 65.01 46.53
Richmond 2.28 3.27 52.87 43.60
Roanoke 5.92 3.37 47.54 41.25
Wallops Island4 2.31 3.07 57.58 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 3.04 3.47 34.34 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 April 30, 2017.

Precipperc30 AprilPrecipperc60 AprPrecipperc90 Apr 

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 April 2017 at 156 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal historical range at about 65% of gages, below normal at about 3%, above normal at about 18%, and much above normal at about 14%.  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 map Aprilstream 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 April 29, 2017, accessed on May 1 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Stream plot April

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 April 25, 2017, showed about 46.4% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” worse; and about 16.0% in “moderate drought.”

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:
3/28/17 – 61.0% abnormally dry or worse, 41.0% moderate drought or worse, 2.2% in severe drought;
2/28/17 – 80.5% abnormally dry or worse, 17.1% moderate drought or worse, 2.9% in severe drought;
1/31/17 – 30.0% abnormally dry or worse, 0.5% moderate drought;
4/26/16 – 95.1% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% moderate drought.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 5/1/17) Drought Status Report on April 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.  The Task Force is next scheduled to meet on May 11, 2017.  Following is an excerpt from the April 17 report:

“Although precipitation in early April increased streamflow rates, it was not enough to offset dry conditions that extend over most of central Virginia due to below-normal winter precipitation.  Portions of Northern Virginia, especially those areas within the Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont drought evaluation regions, continue to experience the driest conditions.  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a drought watch for these two regions on March 22.  Recognizing that dry conditions also exist within other drought evaluation regions extending southward through central Virginia, DEQ distributed a message to water users in those areas to raise awareness of the long-term water supply impact of the dry winter conditions.  The task force discussed the possibility of recommending issuance of a drought watch for some of these regions, particularly the Middle James drought evaluation region, but agreed to continue to closely monitor conditions for now.  …For the current water year (October 1, 2016–April, 13, 2017) precipitation totals have so far been below the April drought watch indicator level for precipitation (81.5% of normal) for nine of Virginia’s thirteen drought evaluation regions.  The Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont regions have received just 66% and 59% of normal precipitation, respectively.  The Shenandoah and Roanoke regions have received 72% and 74% of normal precipitation, respectively.  …The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) reported no low water level issues with the Department’s fish stocking program.  However, there have been a few complaints regarding recreational water access due to low water.  The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reported that we are nearing the end of the spring wildfire season.  VDOF does not have any current concerns regarding drought related fires or insect/disease issues.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for April 29, 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.

VA Drought Apr29
DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The April 25, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about 23.6% of the United States (including all or parts of 39 states) as being abnormally dry or worse; this was the lowest nationwide percentage of abnormally dry-or-worse conditions since the week of November 17, 2009.  The Drought Monitor rated 0.92% of the country (including parts of 8 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4); this was the lowest nationwide percentage of severe-or-worse drought since the Drought Monitor began on January 4, 2000.  (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:
3/28/17 – 34.9% abnormally dry or worse, 2.4% severe drought or worse;
2/28/17 – 34.0% abnormally dry or worse, 3.1% severe drought or worse;
1/31/17 – 28.3% abnormally dry or worse, 3.2% severe drought or worse;
4/26/16 – 37.0% abnormally dry or worse; 5.0% severe drought or worse.

No state had 50% or more rated by the April 25 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought.  The highest percentage of those categories was in Florida, at about 33%.

In California, just over 1% of the state was rated on 4/25/17 as being in severe-or-worse drought.  This severe-or-worse rating, in effect since the week of March 14, 2017, was the lowest for the Golden State since the week of February 14, 2012.  Most of California is out of the drought that began in late 2011 to early 2012 and continued into early 2017.

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 May 1, 2017.
Drought Outlook US Apr20

On Virginia Water Radio for 5-1-17: SERCAP’s Past and Present of Paying Attention to Rural Water and Wastewater Needs

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of May 1, 2017, is “SERCAP Continues a Rural Water and Wastewater Focus That Began in 1969.”  The 4 min./51 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2017/05/episode-366-5-1-17-sercap-continues.html, introduces the Roanoke-based organization whose work since 1969 in rural water, wastewater, and community development has been a model for similar organizations nationwide.

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