Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending October 30, 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 October 30, 2017 (information available as of October 31).
  2. Flooding overview maps for Virginia and nationwide, as of October 31.

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 Oct2017 Walker Creek at Bane Giles Co Rt 663 Sep4 2017

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

Precipitation

The following two color-coded maps show southeastern U.S. precipitation amounts (top map) and the percent of normal precipitation compared to normal for this period of the year (bottom map) over the seven-day period ending October 30, 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.  Maps for other regions are available online at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps.

Precip Oct30Precip perc Oct30
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 10/31/17.  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 Oct31

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at gaging stations as of October 30, 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 Oct30stream codes

Flooding Overview

As of about 11 a.m. EDT on October 31, 2017, 3 stream-gaging stations in or adjacent to Virginia were near flood stage, according to the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service’s (AHPS) map of stream and river levels relative to flood stage (color-coded) for Virginia and nearby areas.  The AHPS map for Virginia is shown below, along with the nationwide map as of the same time.  The maps are available online at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php; at that site, one can select Virginia or any other state of interest.
Flooding 01 VA Oct31Flooding 02 US OCt31

Groundwater Permit Reduction Impacts in Eastern Virginia Discussed at State Water Commission Meeting on 10/24/17

At the State Water Commission meeting on October 24, 2017, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director David Paylor reported that recent reductions in permitted withdrawals of groundwater in eastern Virginia should reduce the rate of water-table dropping in the region’s Potomac aquifer, estimated at about 2 to 2.5 feet per year currently.  Mr. Paylor reported that the permitted withdrawals for the region’s 14 largest groundwater users have been reduced from 146 million gallons a day (MGD) to about 69 million MGD.  Mr. Paylor also noted that the Hampton Roads Sanitation Authority’s plan to add treated wastewater to the aquifer—known as the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow, or SWIFT; online at http://swiftva.com/—could significantly replenish the groundwater source.

More information about the State Water Commission meeting is available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions/swc.htm?x=mtg.

Source: DEQ: Cutting groundwater draws likely to stabilize supply, Daily Press, 10/24/17.

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

 

Monthly Normal October 2016-

September 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 1.45 3.10 37.97 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

0.84 3.14 39.96 39.63
Bristol2

 

0.99 2.99 44.96 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

1.95 4.48 33.25 42.71
Danville

 

2.60 3.96 44.36 44.41
Lynchburg

 

1.91 3.88 34.64 41.57
Norfolk

 

1.99 4.76 53.48 46.53
Richmond

 

1.48 4.13 38.65 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.38 3.89 40.03 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.84 3.98 49.83 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.75 3.92 39.53 41.54

**Record low for the month at respective location.

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 October 3, 2017.

Precip 30Precip 60Precip 90 

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 September 2017 at 156 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 68% of gages;
below normal – about 24%;
much below normal – about 5%;
above normal – about 3%.

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 10/4/17.  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 Sept 

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 October 1, 2017, accessed on 10/4/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

streams plot
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 September 26, 2017, categorized 18.1% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” (including areas in the following watersheds: upper James; upper Roanoke; lower New; Big Sandy; and upper Clinch/Holston).

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:
8/29/17 – 19.7% abnormally dry;
7/25/17 – 32.4% abnormally dry;
6/27/17 – 0.9% abnormally dry;
9/27/16 – 84.2% abnormally dry; 0.8% moderate drought.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 10/4/17) Drought Status Report on September 18, 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 October 12, 2017.  Following is an excerpt from the September 18 report:

“Normal to below-normal temperatures prevailed across much of Virginia during the latter part of August and early September.  Precipitation amounts during this same period were highly variable.  Stream flow gaging stations reported flows that were generally within the normal range (between the 25th and 75th percentiles); with some stations in scattered locations across central, southern and western Virginia reporting below-normal flows.
“Most of the wells in the Virginia Climate Response network of groundwater level observation wells were reporting normal to above-normal levels, except for the wells in central Virginia, which continued to report below-normal levels.  The DMTF agreed to recommend continuing the existing Drought Watch in the Northern Piedmont region, based upon a forecast for above-normal temperatures, below-normal precipitation and the continuing low groundwater levels with consequent potential for low base flows. …
“For the current water year (October 1, 2016–September 15, 2017) precipitation totals remained below the drought watch indicator level for precipitation (85% of normal) for one of Virginia’s thirteen drought-evaluation regions: The Northern Piedmont region received 83% of normal precipitation for the current water year.  Water year-to-date precipitation totals across all other regions were close to or above 100% or normal….
“The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) reported that some growers in southwest Virginia have reported dry conditions. Also, cotton growers in southern Greensville County reported receiving below average precipitation, which has negatively affected their crop, and corn producers in northeastern Virginia reported that the harvest is underway and yields there are below normal due to the July heat and lack of moisture.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wilmington NC District reported that their projects had prepared for potential flooding due to Hurricane Irma, but the storm had little impact in southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. The reservoir levels at J. H. Kerr and Philpott dams are running about 2-3 feet below guide curve for this time of year.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for October 2, 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 VADROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The September 26, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 31.0% of the United States (including all or parts of 42 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.2% of the country (including parts of 10 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:
8/29/17 – 25.8% abnormally dry or worse, 4.8% severe drought or worse;
7/25/17 – 33.8% abnormally dry or worse, 4.4% severe drought or worse;
6/27/17 – 23.2% abnormally dry or worse, 2.7% severe drought or worse;
9/27/16 – 38.8% abnormally dry or worse; 6.8% severe drought or worse.

The following state had 50% or more categorized by the Sepember 26 Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
Montana – 70%;

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 October 4, 2017.
Drought outlook

 

Managed Aquifer Recharge, Storage, and Recovery in 2017 Arroyo from the Arizona Water Resources Research Center, September 2017 Water Resources Impact from AWRA, July/August 2017 Colorado Water, and Other Information Resources

Managed aquifer recharge, storage, and recovery—that is, the intentional recharge of groundwater aquifers with surface water or wastewater, for storage and potential future recovery—was examined in detail in three water newsletters in 2017.

“Arizona Water Banking, Recharge, and Recovery,” by Noah Silber-Coats and Susanna Eden, is the feature article in the 2017 issue of The Arroyo, an annual newsletter from the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.  The 16-page article examines in detail Arizona’s program of recharging groundwater aquifers with surface water (particularly Colorado River water from the Central Arizona Project) and the complicated legal and management arrangements involved.  The publication is available online at https://wrrc.arizona.edu/publications/arroyo, or contact the Arizona center at (520) 621-9591, or e-mail: wrrc@cals.arizona.edu.

The concept, history, and current examples of managed aquifer recharge in United States and beyond are the focus of the September 2017 issue of Water Resources Impact, published by the American Water Resources Association (AWRA; headquatered in Middleburg, Va.).  The publication devotes 30 pages in 10 feature articles by invited authors to the subject.  The publication is available online at The publication is available online at http://www.awra.org/impact/; or contact AWRA at P.O. Box 1626, Middleburg, VA 20118-8390; (540) 687-8390; info@awra.org.

“Aquifer Storage and Recovery” is the theme of the July/August 2017 issue of Colorado Water, from the Colorado State University Water Center and the Colorado Water Institute.  The 42-page newsletter builds upon a symposium on subsurface water storage held at Colorado State University in November 2016.  The issue is available in the newsletter archive online at http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/newsletters.asp; or contact the Colorado Water Institute at 1033 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins CO 80523-1033; (970) 491-6308; cwi@colostate.edu.

Following are some other information resources on this topic.

Standard Guidelines for Artificial Recharge of Ground Water – from the American Society of Civil Engineers/Environmental and Water Resources Institute.  Before presenting detailed standards for planning and implementing managed aquifer recharge projects, the document provides introductory material on groundwater recharge concepts and terms.  The document is available online (as a PDF) at http://ascelibrary.org/doi/pdf/10.1061/9780784405482.

Prospects for Managed  Underground Storage of Recoverable Water – published in 2008 by the National Research Council.  The 350-page report is available online at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12057/prospects-for-managed-underground-storage-of-recoverable-water.

The Ninth International Symposium on Managed Aquifer Recharge – held in June 2016 in Mexico City.  The symposium Web site is http://www.ismar9.org/.

MAR Portal developed by the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre, located in The Netherlands, online at https://www.un-igrac.org/ggis/mar-portal.  The portal offers information on managed aquifer recharge (MAR) sites around the world and regional MAR suitability maps.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of August 2017, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought, as of the end of August 2017.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

01 Icon Precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for August 2017 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

Location  

August 2017 Observed

 

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

 

Bluefield1

 

2.21 3.26 40.00 39.63
Bristol2

 

6.28 3.47 46.54 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

3.18 3.62 34.96 42.71
Danville

 

4.07 3.97 44.67 44.41
Lynchburg

 

2.24 3.26 36.11 41.57
Norfolk

 

9.04 5.52 65.03 46.53
Richmond

 

5.94 4.66 48.36 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.31 3.56 42.40 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

10.86 4.19 59.89 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 3.83 3.53 40.33 41.54

 

Location notes
1 – The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.
2- The Bristol location Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.
3 – The Charlottesville location is the (Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
4 – Wallops Island is in Accomack County.
5 – Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation sources:  Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk);
Morristown, Tenn. (http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx;
Baltimore-Washington (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=akq).

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1981 to 2010.  The National Climatic Data Center released these normal values in July 2011.  For information on the normal values, see the National Climatic Data Center Web page at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/climate-normals.

For graphs of precipitation, visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the Southeast Regional Climate Center’s preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through August 31, 2017.

Precip30 Aug31Precip60Aug31Precip90Aug31

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

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

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map on 9/5/17.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are shown in the chart below the map.

Streams Augstream codes 

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending August 31, 2017, accessed on 9/1/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams plot Aug
03 Icon Groundwater
Information on current groundwater levels in Virginia monitoring wells is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/current/?type=gw; and from the USGS Climate Response Network, online at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/net/ogwnetwork.asp?ncd=crn (at that page, you can find a national map showing the status of groundwater monitoring wells compared to historical values).

04 Icon DroughtDROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

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

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

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

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
7/25/17 – 32.4% abnormally dry;
6/27/17 – 0.9% abnormally dry;
5/30/17 – drought-free;
8/30/16 – 5.3% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 9/6/17) Drought Status Report on August 14, 2017.  A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  The Task Force is next scheduled to meet on September 14, 2017.

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for August 31, 2017.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.”  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.
Drought VA Aug31DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The August 29, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 25.8% of the United States (including all or parts of 38 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.8% of the country (including parts of 8 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
7/25/17 – 33.8% abnormally dry or worse, 4.4% severe drought or worse;
6/27/17 – 23.2% abnormally dry or worse, 2.7% severe drought or worse;
5/30/17 – 20.7% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
8/30/16 – 37.7% abnormally dry or worse; 6.1% severe drought or worse.

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

90-DAY DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on September 1, 2017.

Drought outlook Aug31

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of July 2017, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought, as of the end of July 2017.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

01 Icon Precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for July 2017 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

Location July 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal August 2016-

July 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 3.31 4.26 45.24 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

4.89 4.17 40.97 39.63
Bristol2

 

4.28 4.69 43.49 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

3.84 4.32 34.48 42.71
Danville

 

4.61 4.59 45.54 44.41
Lynchburg

 

3.30 4.36 35.06 41.57
Norfolk

 

4.41 5.14 60.74 46.53
Richmond

 

2.25 4.51 42.95 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.07 4.04 44.55 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

5.68 4.09 50.88 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 8.80 3.67 37.46 41.54

 

Location notes
1 – The Bluefield location is the Mercer County, W. Va., airport, near the Va.-W.Va. state line.
2- The Bristol location Tri-Cities Airport in Tenn., about 20 miles from Bristol, Va./Tenn.
3 – The Charlottesville location is the (Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.
4 – Wallops Island is in Accomack County.
5 – Washington-Dulles Airport is in Loudoun County.

Precipitation sources:  Climate pages of the following National Weather Service Forecast Offices:
Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk);
Morristown, Tenn. (http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx;
Baltimore-Washington (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx); and
Wakefield, Va. (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=akq).

The normal values used by the National Weather Service (NWS) in these provisional reports are based on the period from 1981 to 2010.  The National Climatic Data Center released these normal values in July 2011.  For information on the normal values, see the National Climatic Data Center Web page at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/climate-normals.
For graphs of precipitation, visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the Southeast Regional Climate Center’s preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through July 31, 2017.

Precip perc 30 Jul31Precip perc 60 Jul31Precip perc 90 Jul31 

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

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, accessed online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=pa28d&r=va&w=map on 8/1/17.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are shown in the chart below the map.

Streams 28 daysstream codes 

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending July 29, 2017, accessed on 8/1/17 at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

Streams Plot July

03 Icon Groundwater
Information on current groundwater levels in Virginia monitoring wells is available from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System, online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/va/nwis/current/?type=gw; and from the USGS Climate Response Network, online at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/net/ogwnetwork.asp?ncd=crn (at that page, you can find a national map showing the status of groundwater monitoring wells compared to historical values).

 04 Icon Drought

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

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

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

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

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
6/27/17 – 0.9% abnormally;
5/30/17 – drought-free;
4/25/17 – 46.4% abnormally dry or worse, 16.0% moderate drought;
7/26/16 – 5.5% abnormally dry.

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

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 8/1/17) Drought Status Report on July 17, 2017.  A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  Following is an excerpt from the July 17 report:

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

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

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

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

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The July 25, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized 33.8% of the United States (including all or parts of 36 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized 4.4% of the country (including parts of 11 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
6/27/17 – 23.2% abnormally dry or worse, 2.7% severe drought or worse;
5/30/17 – 20.7% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
4/25/17 – 23.6% abnormally dry or worse, 0.9% severe drought or worse;
7/26/16 – 46.1% abnormally dry or worse; 6.0% severe drought or worse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

90-DAY DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on August 1, 2017.

Drought outlook August