Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of January 2018, 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 January 2018.  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 January 2018 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 January 2018 Observed Monthly Normal February 2017-January 2018 Observed Annual Normal
Blacksburg 1.60 3.08 38.10 40.89
Bluefield1 1.49 2.90 37.53 39.63
Bristol2 1.57 3.37 42.13 41.01
Charlottesville3 1.51 2.77 33.39 42.71
Danville 2.83* 3.42 41.38* 44.41
Lynchburg 2.94 3.14 32.08 41.57
Norfolk 3.51 3.40 48.26 46.53
Richmond 3.41 3.04 37.08 43.60
Roanoke 2.14 2.92 35.02 41.25
Wallops Island4 3.67 3.04 47.44 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.79 2.68 39.72 41.54

*NWS reported nine days of data missing at Danville in January 2018.

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 High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; 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 preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through January 31, 2018.  Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.

Precip 30 JanPrecip 60 JanPrecip 90 Jan 

02 Icon Streamflow

According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for January 2018 at ??? stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:
within the normal historical range – about 12% of gages;
below normal – about 46%;
much below normal – about 41%;
above normal – about 1%.

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed on February 6, 2018, at the site given in the paragraph aboe.  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 Feb 2018 KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 January 31, 2018, accessed on February 1, 2018, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams plot Jan
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 January 30, 2018, categorized 97.9% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” or worse (covering all of the Commonwealth except for parts of three far southwestern counties); 48.6% in “moderate drought” or worse (covering essentially all of the Piedmont region); and 2.9% in “severe drought” (covering all or part of several northern Virginia counties).  The occurrence of severe drought in Virginia began in the Drought Monitor for January 23, 2018, for the first time since the report for March 28, 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:
12/26/17 – 97.4% abnormally dry or worse; 42.9% moderate drought;
11/28/17 – 44.1% abnormally dry or worse; 3.9% moderate drought;
10/31/17 – 41.5% abnormally dry or worse; 3.8% moderate drought;
1/31/17 – 30.0% abnormally dry or worse; 0.5% moderate drought.

Here are some comments from the January 30 Drought Monitor on conditions in or near Virginia:

“…As summarized by the National Drought Mitigation Center, fall crops (such as wheat and barley) were stunted in southern Virginia, and wells were going dry, groundwater levels dropping, and streams and ponds running dry in northern Virginia….”

“…The Bristol Tri-Cities Airport station in Tennessee has received only 3.73 inches of precipitation since November 11, 2017, which is the driest November 11-January 30 period on record.”

In early February 2018, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 2/6/18).  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 DMTF’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 March 8, 2018.

The following four paragraphs are excerpted from the DMTF’s February 2018 report:
“Recorded precipitation during January was variable across the Commonwealth, with generally above normal amounts in eastern Virginia and continued below normal amounts across most of the central and western regions.  The majority of stream flow gaging stations continue to report below-normal seven-day average flows.  Wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells located in central Virginia also continued to report below normal to much-below-normal levels….

“The National Weather Service Monthly Drought Outlook released on January 31, 2018, indicated a likelihood of continuing drought across central Virginia through February.  The current U. S. Seasonal Drought Outlook for the period through April 30, 2018 [see below in this post] also indicated drought persistence across the same region.

“The DMTF discussed the continuing drought conditions throughout the central half of the state, as well as the abnormally dry conditions in the southwest.  The Task Force decided to recommend that a Drought Watch Advisory should be issued for the Upper James drought evaluation region based upon below normal groundwater levels, stream flows and subsequent below-normal reservoir levels.  [See below for a map of the drought evaluation regions used by the DMTF.]  The group also agreed that the existing Drought Watch Advisories in six regions (Chowan, Middle James, Northern Piedmont, Northern Virginia, Roanoke River and Shenandoah) should continue.  If the pattern of below-normal precipitation during the winter ‘leaf-off’ period continues through February, most of the state will have experienced a second consecutive winter season with low recharge to the groundwater system.  These conditions may have serious impacts upon water availability during the next growing season due to low water table levels and subsequent low base flow in streams.

“VDACS [Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services] has received reports that cover crops have been affected and that in some areas, particularly in the upper Shenandoah region, livestock watering ponds have been affected. VDGIF [the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries] noted that due to low water levels, trout stocking has been delayed, and VDOF [Virginia Department of Forestry] reported that there is some concern regarding central Virginia for the spring wildfire season.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wilmington N.C., District described conditions affecting Philpott and J.H. Kerr reservoirs in the Roanoke drought evaluation region.  The Kerr project’s Drought Management Plan has been in effect for several weeks, and inflows have been well below normal.”

The DMTF also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, also online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/DroughtMonitoring.aspx.  Shown below is the map for January 31, 2018, followed by a map identifying the Drought Evaluation Regions used by the DMTF.  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 widespread watch, warning, and emergency conditions as of the end of January.

Drought VA Jan31VA Drought Evaluation Regions map

Following are recent drought-related news headlines (hyperlinked to the online articles):
Despite rain, region approaching long-term drought, WTOP FM-Washington, D.C., 2/2/18.
Augusta County sets up water filling station in Verona, Waynesboro News Virginian, 2/3/18.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The January 30, 2018, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 61.9% of the United States (including all or parts of 47 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 14.4% of the country (including parts of 22 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:
12/26/17 – 45.8% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% severe drought or worse;
11/28/17 – 35.7% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% severe drought or worse;
10/31/17 – 28.1% abnormally dry or worse; 2.3% severe drought or worse;
1/31/17 – 28.3% abnormally dry or worse; 3.2% severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more categorized by the January 30 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
Arizona – 64%;
New Mexico – 68%;
Oklahoma – 81%.

Following are some comments from the January 30 Drought Monitor on conditions in three regions:

South
“…This week was a continuation of very dry conditions in western Texas, western Oklahoma, and eastern New Mexico which have lasted for over three months….  In Texas, the Amarillo International Airport has had 109 consecutive days with no measurable precipitation as of January 30, edging out January 3, 1957, whose dry run lasted 75 consecutive days.  Canyon went 102 days without measurable rain through January 16, which was the second longest dry streak behind the 104 days ending on January 15, 1956.  Guymon, Oklahoma, has had only 0.04 inch of precipitation since October 11, 2017….”

Midwest
“…Most of the region has been very dry for the last three months, with dry conditions in the Mid-Mississippi Valley extending back 12 to 24 months in places….”

West
“…[D]ry weather [dominated] the West this week and [has for] much of the last six or more months….  As reported to the National Weather Service, in southern Arizona ranchers were already starting (or preparing) to haul water for livestock as ponds were drying up.  This is more typical of spring than mid-winter.  …Mountain snowpack was abysmally low, reaching record low levels for this time of year in parts of New Mexico and Colorado. …D2 was added to southern California to reflect long-term precipitation deficits in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties.”

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 February 1, 2018.

Drought US Outlook Jan18

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of December 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 December 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 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.  Note the below-normal amounts over the past year in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Richmond, and Roanoke.

Location December 2017 Observed Monthly Normal January 2017-

December 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 0.64 2.95 40.90 40.89
Bluefield1 0.96 2.91 40.29 39.63
Bristol2 1.76 3.37 43.12 41.01
Charlottesville3 0.35 3.15 34.48 42.71
Danville 0.74 3.27 42.43 44.41
Lynchburg 0.69 3.24 32.92 41.57
Norfolk 2.40 3.26 49.16 46.53
Richmond 1.05 3.26 37.96 43.60
Roanoke 0.36 2.94 36.98 41.25
Wallops Island4 1.89 3.43 48.56 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 0.77 2.96 40.66 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 High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; 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 preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through December 31, 2017 (through November 30 in the case of the 90-day map).  [Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.]

Precip30Dec31Precip60Dec31Precip90Dec31
02 Icon Streamflow
According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for December 2017 at 158 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:
within the normal historical range – about 4% of gages;
below normal – about 32%;
much below normal – about 64%.

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 January 2, 2018.  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 Dec2017

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 December 30, 2017, accessed on January 2, 2018, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams Plot Dec30
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 December 26, 2017, categorized 97.4% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” or worse (coverall all of the Commonwealth except for parts of three far southwestern counties).  The December 26 report categorized 42.9% of Virginia in “moderate drought” (covering most of the Piedmont region).

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:
11/28/17 – 44.1% abnormally dry or worse; 3.9% moderate drought;
10/31/17 – 41.5% abnormally dry or worse; 3.8% moderate drought;
9/26/17 – 18.1% abnormally dry;
12/27/16 – 76.1% abnormally dry or worse; 19.3% moderate drought.

Following is a comment from the December 26 Drought Monitor on conditions in or near Virginia:
“During the past 60-days, less than half of normal precipitation fell on central Virginia and North Carolina, accumulating 3-6 inch deficits as 1-, 7-, 14-, and 28-day averaged USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] stream flows dropped to near- or record low levels as of Dec. 25 from Maryland southward into northern North Carolina.  Accordingly, D1 was extended southward from Maryland into central Virginia and westward toward Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va., with the [two] locations closing in on one of their driest Nov.-Dec. periods on record.”

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 1/2/18) Drought Status Report on December 7, 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 January 4, 2018.

The DMTF also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, also online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/DroughtMonitoring.aspx.  Shown below is the map for December 31, 2017, followed by a map identifying the Drought Evaluation Regions used by the DMTF.  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 widespread watch, warning, and emergency conditions as of the end of 2017.Drought VA Dec31

VA Drought Evaluation Regions map

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The December 26, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 45.8% of the United States (including all or parts of 44 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.1% of the country (including parts of 14 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:
11/28/17 –35.7% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% severe drought or worse;
10/31/17 – 28.1% abnormally dry or worse; 2.3% severe drought or worse;
9/26/17 – 31.0% abnormally dry or worse, 4.2% severe drought or worse;
12/27/16 – 43.9% abnormally dry or worse; 8.4% severe drought or worse.

Following is a comment from the December 26 Drought Monitor on record snowfall in Pennsylvania:
“[lL]ake-enhanced snows dumping several feet on favored downwind locations of Lakes Erie and Ontario. Erie…reported its greatest all-time daily snowfall record (34 inches) on December 25, easily breaking its former November 22, 1956, mark of 20 inches.”

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 1, 2018.
Drought Outlook US Dec

Eastern Va. Groundwater Withdrawals to be Reduced by 69 Million Gallons per Day, According to Agreements with Large Permit Holders Announced in December 2017

On December 13, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced agreements between the Commonwealth and large groundwater-user permit holders in eastern Virginia to reduce permitted withdrawals.

Below is an excerpt from the Governor’s Office news release on the agreement, Governor McAuliffe Announces Agreements to Protect Virginia’s Aquifers; New permits will support future growth and ensure continued access to clean water, 12/13/17:
“Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced agreements to limit groundwater withdrawals from the Commonwealth’s at-risk coastal aquifers.  The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will issue new permits for 14 major groundwater users in eastern Virginia, reducing total allowable withdrawals by 69 million gallons a day.  …Since 1992, the DEQ has reviewed requests to withdraw large quantities of groundwater in the coastal plain.  Permits are issued to industry, municipal water supplies, agriculture, and large residential developments.  Over pumping has led to significant groundwater declines, measured land subsidence, and increasing saltwater intrusion.  …When Governor McAuliffe took office, permits had been issued allowing for the withdrawal of 146 million gallons of groundwater per day.  By working with the Commonwealth, the permittees found ways to reduce their allowable consumption by as much as 52 percent.”

Following is a link to a news media article on the permits agreement: State reaches deals with large water users to preserve aquifers, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/15/17.

Information from the DEQ on water withdrawal (both groundwater and surface water) is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/WaterWithdrawalPermittingandCompliance.aspx; information specifically on groundwater withdrawal management areas and permits is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/WaterWithdrawalPermittingandCompliance/GroundwaterWithdrawalPermitsFees.aspx.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of November 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 November 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 November 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 November 2017 Observed Monthly Normal December 2016-

November 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 1.23 2.87 43.35 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

1.37 2.69 42.53 39.63
Bristol2

 

1.10 3.10 46.72 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

0.95 3.83 35.85 42.71
Danville

 

2.07 3.36 43.31 44.41
Lynchburg

 

1.02 3.41 35.33 41.57
Norfolk

 

1.17 3.15 49.30 46.53
Richmond

 

1.43 3.24 39.71 43.60
Roanoke

 

0.70 3.40 39.41 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.27 2.87 50.64 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.99 3.41 42.25 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 High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; 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 preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through December 1, 2017 (through November 30 in the case of the 90-day map).

Precip 30 Dec1Precip 60 Dec 1Precip 90 Nov30 

02 Icon Streamflow
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) WaterWatch for Virginia (online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for November 2017 at 160 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:
within the normal historical range – about 59% of gages;
below normal – about 30%;
much below normal – about 11%.

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 12/5/17.  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 Nov KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 December 1, 2017, accessed on 12/5/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

streams plot Dec1

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 November 28, 2017, categorized 44.1% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” (covering the southern Piedmont east, plus almost all of Roanoke River basin, the upper Shenandoah basin, the upper James basin, and parts of northern Virginia).  The November 28 report categorized 3.9% of Virginia in “moderate drought” (covering parts of six counties along southern border, just east of Danville).

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:
10/31/17 – 41.5% abnormally dry or worse; 3.8% moderate drought;
9/26/17 – 18.1% abnormally dry;
8/29/17 – 19.7% abnormally dry;
11/29/16 – 69.1% abnormally dry or worse; 28.4% moderate drought or worse; 4.8% severe drought or worse; 0.9% extreme drought.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 12/5/17) Drought Status Report on November 3, 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 December 7 2017.

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, both accessed online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/DroughtMonitoring.aspx.  Shown below is the map for November 30, 2017, followed by a map identifying the Drought Evaluation Regions used by the Task Force.  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 fairly widespread watch, warning, and emergency conditions in central Virginia.

Drought VA Nov30VA Drought Evaluation Regions map

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The November 28, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 35.7% of the United States (including all or parts of 40 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.1% 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:
10/31/17 – 28.1% abnormally dry or worse; 2.3% severe drought or worse;
9/26/17 – 31.0% abnormally dry or worse, 4.2% severe drought or worse;
8/29/17 – 25.8% abnormally dry or worse; 4.8% severe drought or worse;
11/29/16 – 46.8% abnormally dry or worse; 10.8% severe drought or worse.

The following state had 50% or more categorized by the November 28 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
Arkansas – 61%.

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 5, 2017.

Drought Outlook US

 

 

Waterworks Apprenticeship Program for Roanoke County, Va., High School Students Described in 11/14/17 Roanoke Times Article

Roanoke County teen apprentices get a hands-on look at the valley’s waterworks, Roanoke Times, 11/14/17, describes the Western Virginia Water Authority’s apprenticeship program for Roanoke County high school students.  As of the 2017-18 school year, the Water Authority–which supplies water to customers in the City of Roanoke and the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke–had five paid interns and planned to add five more in 2018-19.  The program targets high school juniors.

More information on the Western Virginia Water Authority is available online at http://www.westernvawater.org/.

Proper Well Abandonment is Well Worth Discussing on the 30th Anniversary in 2017 of the Baby Jessica Incident in Texas

On October 16, 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from an abandoned water well in Midland, Texas.  The October 2017 issue of The Cross Section, from the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District in Lubbock, Tex., recalls the “Baby Jessica” story as a cautionary tale for the proper closure and sealing of wells that will not longer be used—a task of importance not only for safety of humans and animals but also for groundwater protection.  The newsletter is available online at http://www.hpwd.org/the-cross-section/; or contact the District at 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-2499l (806) 762-0181.

Following are some Virginia information resources related to well abandonment and sealing in Virginia.

*Virginia law on sealing temporarily or permanently abandoned wells is online at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title12/agency5/chapter630/section450/.

*Water well tips from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation are available online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/lokwaterwell, or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District  (the District Directory is available onlinee at http://vaswcd.org/district-directory).

*“Proper Permanent Well Abandonment for Virginia Coastal Plain Wells,” from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Water/GroundwaterPermitting/DocumentsandForms/2017/DEQFactsheet-WellAbandonment2014.pdf?ver=2017-03-23-123639-840.

*Some Virginia localities also provide information on proper well abandonment.

Dry Conditions and Water-supply Responses in Virginia in Fall 2017 Examined in Nov. 6, 2017, Report from WMRA Radio

“What Does DEQ’s Drought Watch Mean?,” broadcast and posted on November 6, 2017, by WMRA FM-Harrisonburg, gives an overview of water-supply conditions in several central and western Virginia localities that were under voluntary or mandatory water-use reductions in fall 2017.

The 5 min./4 sec. audio and transcript are available online at http://wmra.org/post/what-does-deqs-drought-watch-mean#stream/0.