Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Water Status Report as of the Beginning of January 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 beginning of January 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 December 2016 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 December 2016 Observed

 

Monthly Normal January 2016-

December 2016 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 3.09 2.95 42.04 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

3.20 2.91 34.83 39.63
Bristol2

 

5.36 3.37 35.67 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

1.72 3.15 33.58 42.71
Danville

 

1.62 3.27 46.83 44.41
Lynchburg

 

3.10 3.24 42.50 41.57
Norfolk

 

2.54 3.26 68.86 46.53
Richmond

 

2.80 3.26 52.75 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.79 2.94 46.81 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

3.97 3.43 56.42 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 2.36 2.96 35.33 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 January 2, 2017.

precip-30-jan2precip-60-jan2precip-90-jan2

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 December 2016 at about 156 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 56% of gages, below normal at about 37%, and much below normal at about 7%.  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-dec-2016

stream codes

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of average streamflow conditions.  Below is the summary plot for 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending January 1, 2017, accessed at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa07d&sid=w__plot&r=va on January 3, 2017.

streams-plot-jan2

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 January 3, 2017, showed about 70.9% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” covering the western and central regions of the state, except for parts of several counties on the western and southwestern borders.  The January 3 report also showed about 15.4% of Virginia in “moderate drought” or worse, covering most of the New River basin, parts of the western Roanoke River basin and eastern Holston basin, and parts of several counties in the northern Piedmont.

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:
12/6/16 – 68.7% abnormally dry or worse, 27.7% moderate drought or worse, 0.8% severe drought;
11/1/16 – 28.9% abnormally dry or worse, 3.4% moderate drought;
10/4/16 – 13.5% abnormally dry or worse, 0.2% moderate drought;
1/5/16 – 0.01% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 12/1/16) Drought Status Report on December 2, 2016.  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 January 12, 2017.

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for December 12, 2016, the most recent available as of January 4, 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-dec12-2016
DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The January 3, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated 40.3% of the United States (including all or parts of 46 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 7.2% of the country (including parts of 27 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:
12/6/16 – 47.3% abnormally dry or worse, 11.7% severe drought or worse;
11/1/16 – 41.6% abnormally dry or worse, 9.2% severe drought or worse;
10/4/16 – 36.6% abnormally dry or worse, 7.0% severe drought or worse;
1/5/16 – 28.1% abnormally dry or worse, 8.4% severe drought or worse.

In the following states, 50 percent or more of the state was rated by the January 3 Drought Monitor as in severe-or-worse drought:

California, 54%.  This severe-or-worse rating is the lowest for the Golden State since the week of June 11, 2013.  California’s current drought began in late 2011 to early 2012.
Connecticut, 83%.
Massachusetts, 69%.
Oklahoma, 56%.

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 January 3, 2017.

drought-outlook-us

Virginia State Water Commission Meeting on November 30, 2016, in Richmond; Focus on JLARC’s October 2016 Report, “Effectiveness of Virginia’s Water Resource Planning and Management”; Virginia Water Radio Episode and Full-meeting Audio Available

The Virginia State Water Commission met November 30, 2016, at 10 a.m., in House Room C of the General Assembly Building, 201 North 9th Street in Richmond.  More information on the meeting is available online at http://studies.virginiageneralassembly.gov/meetings/409, or from the Virginia House of Delegates’ Clerk’s Office/Committee Operations, phone (804) 698-1540.

A Virginia Water Radio episode about the State Water Commission based on audio from the Nov. 30 meeting is available at this link (4 min./34 sec.).  An audio recording of the full Nov. 30 Commission meeting is available at this link (1 hr./47 min./15 sec.).

The focus of the Nov. 30 meeting was a discussion of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s (JLARC) October 2016 report, “Effectiveness of Virginia’s Water Resource Planning and Management,” October 2016 (114 pages), available online at http://jlarc.virginia.gov/landing-water.asp.  Slides from the presentation given at the Nov. 30 meeting by Jamie Bitz, chief legislative analyst at JLARC, are available at this PDF link.

According to the Division of Legislative Service’s Web page on the Commission, at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm, the Virginia General Assembly created the Commission to “study all aspects of water supply and allocation problems in the Commonwealth, whether these problems are of a quantitative or qualitative nature; and coordinate the legislative recommendations of all other state entities having responsibilities with respect to water supply and allocation issues.”  The Commission includes mostly members of the General Assembly plus two citizens.

The current members of the Commission are as follows:
Del. Thomas C. Wright, Jr., Chair
Del. David L. Bulova
Del. T. Scott Garrett
Del. Barry D. Knight
Del. Daniel W. Marshall, III
Del. John M. O’Bannon, III
Del. Luke E. Torian
Del. R. Lee Ware, Jr.
Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.
Sen. Frank M. Ruff, Jr.
Sen. William M. Stanley, Jr.
Sen. Richard H. Stuart
Sen. Frank W. Wagner
Mr. Lamont W. Curtis
Mr. Richard A. Street

USGS 104G Water Resources Research National Competitive Grants Program Request for Proposals (RFP), FY 2017; Pre-proposals Due to Respective State Water Center or Institute by Feb. 15, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR), requests proposals for matching grants from the National Competitive Grants Program, under section 104-G of the federal Water Resources Research Act of 1984.  The grants are intended to support research on the topic of improving and enhancing the nation’s water supply, including the following specific areas of inquiry (levels of priority are not assigned, and the order of listing does not indicate the level of priority):
–Evaluation of innovative approaches to water treatment, infrastructure design, retrofitting, maintenance, management, and replacement;
–Exploration and advancement of our understanding of changes in the quantity and quality of water resources in response to a changing climate, population shifts, and land use changes;
–Development of methods for better estimation of water supply, both surface and groundwater, including estimation of the physical supply and of the economic supply of water;
–Development and evaluation of processes and governance mechanisms for integrated surface/ground water management; and
–Evaluation and assessment of conservation practices.

This program provides university researchers with up to $250,000 for projects of 1 to 3 years in duration.  Any investigator at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States is eligible to apply for a grant through a Water Research Institute or Center established under the provisions of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984, as amended (http://water.usgs.gov/wrri/institutes.html).  Grants require a 1:1 non-federal match.  The intent of the program is to encourage projects with collaboration between universities and the USGS.  As of December 2016, funds had not yet been appropriated for this program for Fiscal Year 2017.

The Request for Proposals (RFP), online at https://niwr.net/public/get_RFP/?type=104G, gives information on the electronic application-filing process and on previous funding, including award amounts and funding success rates.  The 104G application process requires a pre-proposal to the principal investigator(s)’ respective water center or institute by February 15, 2017, 5:00 PM.  Please see http://water.usgs.gov/wrri/index.php to find your respective state water center or institute.  After the pre-proposals are evaluated, a certain number of investigators will be invited to submit full proposals, which are due by June 1, 2017.

If you are a water-resources researcher at an accredited institution of higher education in Virginia and you are interested in submitting a proposal, please contact the Virginia Water Resources Research Center Associate Director Kevin McGuire (540-231-6017; kevin.mcguire@vt.edu).  Pre-proposal and budget must be submitted by 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time, February 15, 2017, via e-mail to water@vt.edu.

Global Surface Water Explorer Shows Changes to Water Bodies over 30 Years; Summary Article in New York Times on 12/9/16

Scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Center in Ispra, Italy, and engineers at Google have developed the Global Surface Water Explorer, an online tool that uses satellite images to show changes in water bodies from 1986 to 2015.  The project Web site is https://global-surface-water.appspot.com/.  A short description of the project, with several examples (including Lake Mead in Arizona), is available in a New York Times article, Mapping Three Decades of Global Water Change, 12/9/16.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of November 2016, 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 November 2016.  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 November 2016 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 November 2016 Precipitation

 

Monthly Normal December 2015-November 2016 Precipitation Annual Normal
Blacksburg 1.42 2.87 43.97 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

2.32 2.69 35.46 39.63
Bristol2

 

3.05 3.10 35.58 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

1.49 3.83 35.69 42.71
Danville

 

1.03 3.36 50.77 44.41
Lynchburg

 

1.17 3.41 44.37 41.57
Norfolk

 

0.98 3.15 69.69 46.53
Richmond

 

1.08 3.24 55.89 43.60
Roanoke

 

1.08 3.40 48.57 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.15 2.87 56.73 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.77 3.41 36.73 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 November 30, 2016.  Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.

precip-perc-30-nov-30precip-perc-60-nov30precip-perc-90-nov30

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 November 2016 at about 153 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 37% of gages, below normal at about 43%, and much below normal at about 20%.  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-november

stream codes

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of average streamflow conditions.  Below is the summary plot for 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending November 29, 2016, accessed at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa07d&sid=w__plot&r=va on December 1, 2016.

streams-plot-nov2016

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 November 29, 2016, showed about 69% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” covering the western and central two-thirds of the state.  The November 1 report also showed about 28% of Virginia in “moderate drought” or worse, from the New River basin westward, plus parts of the northern and central Piedmont; about 5% in “severe drought” or worse, in all or parts of six far southwestern counties; and about 0.9% in “extreme drought,” in Lee County.  The Drought Monitor indication of severe drought began in the week of November 8, 2016; that was the first severe drought indication in Virginia since the Drought Monitor of September 4, 2012.  The Drought Monitor indication of extreme drought began in the week of November 15, 2016; that was the first extreme drought indication in Virginia since the Drought Monitor of September 28, 2010.

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.”

Please note that the Drought Monitor assessment for November 29, 2016, did not incorporate the significant rainfalls received in Virginia during the first week of December 2016.

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
11/1/16 – about 29% abnormally dry or worse; about 3% in moderate drought;
9/27/16 – about 85% abnormally dry or worse; about 0.8% in moderate drought;
8/30/16 – about 5% abnormally dry;
12/1/15 – about 0.01% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 12/6/16) Drought Status Report on December 2, 2016.  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 December 2 report:

“The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) met on Monday, November 28, 2016 to discuss the status of drought monitoring and weather forecasts across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Based upon the current three-month precipitation forecast (see below), the DMTF agreed to closely monitor conditions during December and meet again in early January, 2017.  If the current dry conditions have not abated and the three-month precipitation outlook has not improved, the Task Force plans to prepare and distribute a message to water users across Virginia to raise awareness of the long-term water-supply impact of dry winter conditions.  Dry conditions caused by below normal rainfall continued across all of the western two-thirds of Virginia.  Extreme southwestern Virginia continued to be the driest portion of the Commonwealth, with abnormally dry conditions extending northeastward to northern Virginia.  For the current water year (October 1, 2016–November 30, 2016) precipitation totals have so far been below 85% of normal for 9 of the 13 drought-evaluation regions.  The Northern Piedmont, Northern Virginia and Shenandoah drought-evaluation regions received less than 50% of normal precipitation.  Since December 1, 2015, however, all 13 drought-evaluation regions have received 85% or more of normal precipitation.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below are daily maps for December 1 and December 6, 2016, showing an improvement in conditions in parts of the Commonwealth from rainfall between those dates.  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-dec-1 drought-va-dec6

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The November 29, 2016, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about 48.6% of the United States (including all or parts of 46 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 13.9% of the country (including parts of 38 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.)   In the November 29 report, areas of severe-or-worse drought stretched from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to southwestern Virginia, and from eastern Pennsylvania to Maine.

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:
11/1/16 – 41.6% abnormally dry or worse; 9.2% severe drought or worse;
9/27/16 – 38.8% abnormally dry or worse; 6.8% severe drought or worse;
8/30/16 – 37.7% abnormally dry or worse; 6.1% severe drought or worse;
12/1/15 – 32.4% abnormally dry or worse; 12.3% severe drought or worse.

In the following states, 50 percent of more of the state was rated by the November 29 Drought Monitor as in severe-or-worse drought:

Alabama, 100%.  This severe-or-worse rating is the highest for the Yellowhammer State since 100% in the Drought Monitor of December 12, 2000 (although the state had near 100% ratings in June 2007).

California, 60%.  California’s current drought began in late 2011 to early 2012.

Connecticut, 83%.

Georgia, 75%.  This severe-or-worse rating was the highest for the Peach State since 79% in the Drought Monitor of February 5, 2013.  In the November 29 report, the Atlanta metropolitan region was in an area of extreme-to-exceptional drought (categories D3 and D4) that stretched from Louisiana to far southwestern Virginia.

Kentucky, 90%.

Massachusetts, 64%.

Mississippi, 100%.  This severe-or-worse rating, which was the case for Mississippi since the report for November 22, 2016, is the highest for the Magnolia State since 100% in the Drought Monitor of November 14, 2000.

New Hampshire, 57%.

Tennessee, 99%.  This severe-or-worse rating, which was the case for Tennessee since the report for November 22, 2016, is the highest for the Volunteer State since 100% in the Drought Monitor of October 16, 2007.

Following are some comments from the November 29, 2016, Drought Monitor on some of the conditions current in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and lower Mississippi Valley, and Far West:

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
“…Long-term precipitation deficits ranged from 4 to 8 inches over the last 90 days to more than 12 inches over the last 12 months across southern New England, with 20-inch deficits evident for the last 24 months. …. Record low to much-below-normal streamflows continued across much of southern New England to eastern Pennsylvania.  According to November 27 USDA reports, topsoil moisture was rated short to very short (dry to very dry) across 85% of Connecticut, 66% of New Hampshire and Virginia, 55% of West Virginia, 46% of Massachusetts, 38% of Pennsylvania, and 34% of Maine….”

Southeast, and Lower Mississippi Valley
“…Severe drought impacts continued to mount in this region and included parched soils, record to near-record low streamflows, and drying stock ponds.  …November 27 USDA reports indicated that 81% of topsoil moisture in Tennessee was rated short or very short, with such ratings at 76% in Kentucky and Mississippi, 74% in Louisiana, 59% in Florida, 57% in South Carolina, and 43% in North Carolina. Subsoil moisture was rated short to very short in 80% of Tennessee, 79% of Mississippi, 75% of Kentucky, 70% of Louisiana, 53% of Florida, 49% of South Carolina, and 35% of North Carolina….”

…The Rockies and Far West
“…The precipitation [Nov. 22-28, 2016] increased high elevation SNOTEL station snow depth almost everywhere across the West, but SWE (snow water content) values continued to be lower than average across the Pacific Northwest and most of the Rockies.  …This was still early in the snow season…  Reservoirs in [part of New Mexico] continued below 30+ year average levels, but this is due to long-term conditions mostly upstream in the basin out of state; in arid regions like New Mexico, it may take many years for some of these reservoirs to refill to these long-term average levels. …”

On the brighter side of the November 29 report: Puerto Rico was drought-free for the first time since the report of November 19, 2013.

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 December 1, 2016.

drought-outlook-us-november-17

Area of “Extreme” Drought in Virginia’s Southwestern Corner in 11/15/16 U.S. Drought Monitor; First Drought Monitor Rating of Extreme Drought in Va. since September 2010

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for November 15, 2016, showed about 0.1% of Virginia in “extreme drought,” and by the November 22 report, the percentage had increased to about 0.9% of the Commonwealth.  The area covered was in Lee County, Virginia’s most southwestern county. The report on November 15 was the first Drought Monitor indication of extreme drought in Virginia since the weekly report of September 28, 2010.  The November 22 report also showed about 69% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” about 28% in “moderate drought,” and about 5% in “severe 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.”

Below is the Drought Monitor’s Virginia map and statistics table for November 22, 2016.

20161122_va_trd

The small area of severe drought in southwestern Virginia is on the northern edge of a much larger area of severe (or worse) drought in the southeastern United States, centered over Alabama and Georgia, including the Atlanta area.  For more on that situation, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Drought in Atlanta, Ga., and Other Parts of the Southeast in 2016.

Back in Virginia, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of Nov. 28, 2016) Drought Status Report on October 17, 2016.  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 Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is daily map for November 28, 2016.  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.”  Note the  “warning” or “emergency” indicators for precipitation in several areas of the Commonwealth and for groundwater in two areas.  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

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Drought in Southeastern United States as of Mid-November 2016

As of mid-November 2016, a months-long, serious drought was persisting and worsening in the southeastern United States, centered over the area where Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee meet.  The southwestern part of Virginia has also been affected, but not as severely yet as some other states.  The drought-affected area is shown below in the weekly, color-coded National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for November 15, 2016.  The areas of orange, red, and brown show areas categorized, respectively, as severe, extreme, and exceptional drought.

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The November 15 Drought Monitor report also included extensive comments on drought impacts that have been reported from several southeastern states  Here are some of those comments, for the region of the Ohio Valley, Southeast, and Lower Mississippi Valley:

“…In fact, most of the interior Southeast received no precipitation at all this week.  This week capped several months of dry weather.  According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Climate Perspectives Analysis, several stations in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have had the driest three-month period (8/15-2016-11/14/2016) on record, and others have ranked in the top ten driest category…. The dryness in the Southeast dates back to the beginning of the year, which has dried soils and brought streamflows to record low levels….

“Drought impacts were noted by authorities in several states.
*From the Ohio State Climate Office, drought impacts in southwest Ohio include ponds drying up, cattle having to be alternatively watered, and hay being used earlier than usual. *From the Kentucky Division of Water, drought impacts are worsening and include stock ponds going dry and cattle farms having to haul in water or use city water.  Cattle farms have already started feeding hay, and have been doing so for the past 2 to 4 weeks in many areas.  Winter wheat is struggling in many areas.  Streamflows are low statewide.  USACE [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] lakes will be reaching winter pool in a couple weeks and will return to minimum releases.  This will result in low flow conditions potentially returning to the larger rivers including the Kentucky, Green, Licking, Levisa Fork, and Cumberland Rivers.
*From the Alabama State Climatologist, several stations have had the driest 90-day period (8/15-2016-11/14/2016) on record and the longest consecutive number of days without rain, and numerous record-low flows in streams (some at zero flow) have occurred.  Tuscaloosa and Birmingham have had no precipitation for 58 days and counting.  Ponds are drying up and ranchers are being forced to buy water from municipal systems at great cost and which taxes the municipal system as well.  The soils in Alabama are poor water-holding soils which drain quickly, and the state’s immense vegetation transpires huge volumes of water quickly, so water demand is high and drought stress develops quickly.
*From the Georgia State Climatologist and National Weather Service, at least four stations in Georgia (Cedartown, Jasper, Dallas, and Montezuma) have gone 58 consecutive days without measurable rain.  Farmers in Schley County continue to report empty wells and ponds, poor vegetative health/dry pastures, and extremely scarce precipitation.  These farmers report they have been feeding hay to their cattle throughout the entire summer. *From the South Carolina State Climatologist, streamflows and lake levels continue to decline in the Upstate.  Several stations have had the driest 90-day period (8/15-2016-11/14/2016) on record.  The USDA reports that cattle producers have been selling off cows and began feeding hay mid-summer in the Upstate, and producers are reporting that they are prevented from planting winter forage due to lack of rain.
*In a November 10 announcement, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) in response to the drought and wildfire impacts, with a Level 3 – State of Emergency in place for Tennessee.  The announcement included a statement that ‘Approximately 302 of Tennessee’s 480 water systems are experiencing some level of drought impact, ranging from moderate to exceptional.  At least three counties have requested water for residents whose wells have run completely dry of water.’
*In western North Carolina, reports from the public indicate that cattle producers in Watauga and Avery Counties have been feeding their winter stores of hay for over a month.  Streams, creeks, and branches have dried up, producers are having major issues with watering livestock, peoples’ wells have dried up, and local towns are implementing Stage 2 water restrictions.”