Category Archives: Water Supply

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of February 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 February 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 February 2017 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  All values are in inches.

Location February 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal March 2016-

February 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 1.28 2.81 40.58 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

1.56 2.76 35.82 39.63
Bristol2

 

2.13 3.45 32.96 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

0.64 2.70 30.70 42.71
Danville

 

0.89 3.01 44.75 44.41
Lynchburg

 

0.60 2.93 39.59 41.57
Norfolk

 

0.66 3.12 63.06 46.53
Richmond

 

0.71 2.76 50.10 43.60
Roanoke

 

0.54** 2.89 42.68 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.41 2.76 55.44 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 0.71 2.74 30.51 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 February 28, 2017.  Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.

precipperc30feb28precipperc60feb28-jpgprecipperc90feb28

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 February 2017 at 156 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 8% of gages, below normal at about 39%, and much below normal at about 53%.  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-feb2017 

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph
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 February 27, 2017, accessed at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa07d&sid=w__plot&r=va on March 1, 2017.

streams-plot-march-1
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 National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for February 28, 2017, showed about 80.5% of Virginia as “abnormally dry”; about 17.1% in “moderate drought” (covering the northern and central Piedmont and a small area on the south-central border with North Carolina); and about 2.9% in “severe drought” (covering parts of six northern counties).

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

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

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
1/31/17 – 30.0% abnormally dry or worse, 0.5% moderate drought;
1/3/17 – 70.9% abnormally dry or worse, 15.4% moderate drought;
12/6/16 – 68.7% abnormally dry or worse, 27.7% moderate drought or worse, 0.8% severe drought;
3/1/16 – drought-free.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 3/1/17) Drought Status Report on February 13, 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 March 16, 2017.

Following is a short excerpt from the February 13 report:
“The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) met on Thursday February 9, 2017, to discuss the status of drought monitoring and weather forecasts across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Drier-than-normal conditions extend over much of the state due to below-normal precipitation over the past month.  Portions of Northern Virginia continue to experience the driest conditions.  …For the current water year (October 1, 2016–February 9, 2017) precipitation totals have so far been below 85% of normal for seven of Virginia’s thirteen drought evaluation regions.  Two of these regions (Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont) have received just 57% and 56% of normal precipitation, respectively, while the Shenandoah and Roanoke regions each received 79% of normal.  Since February 1, 2016, the Northern Virginia and Northern Piedmont regions received 81% and 84% of normal precipitation [respectively].  The remaining 11 drought-evaluation regions each received more than 90% of normal precipitation during the same period.  …The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) did not receive any reports of dry conditions that negatively impacted agriculture within Virginia over the past month.”

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  As of March 1, 2017, the map’s database was undergoing revisions, so the daily maps are not available for now.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The February 28, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about 34.0% of the United States (including all or parts of 46 states plus Puerto Rico) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 3.1% 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:
1/31/17 – 28.3% abnormally dry or worse, 3.2% severe drought or worse;
1/3/17 – 40.3% abnormally dry or worse, 7.2% severe drought or worse;
12/6/16 – 47.3% abnormally dry or worse, 11.7% severe drought or worse;
3/1/16 – 28.6% abnormally dry or worse, 6.5% severe drought or worse.

In one state, 50 percent or more of the state was rated by the February 28 Drought Monitor as in severe-or-worse drought:
Connecticut, 76%.

In California, about 4% of the state was rated on 1/31/17 as being in severe-or-worse drought.  This severe-or-worse rating is the lowest for the Golden State since the week of February 14, 2012.  California finally seems to be nearing the end of drought that began in late 2011 to early 2012.

Following are some comments from the February 28 Drought Monitor on conditions in several parts of the country:

Virginia
“According to February 27 USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] reports, 44% of the pasture and rangeland in Virginia was rated in poor to very poor condition.”

The Southeast
“D0-D2 expanded in the Carolinas, and D3 crept into the western Carolinas.  Very dry conditions were evident in many drought indicators, including record low streamflow and record low precipitation.  The last 12 months (02/29/16-02/28/17) have been the driest such 12-month period on record for over a dozen stations in the southern Appalachian area…. Similarly, over a dozen stations in the western Carolinas and northern Georgia had the driest 6 months on record for 8/28/16-2/28/17.”

The South
“…February 27 USDA reports indicated that topsoil moisture was short or very short (dry to very dry) across 42% of Oklahoma and 33% of Texas, and subsoil moisture was short or very short across 43% of Oklahoma and 30% of Texas.  Pasture and rangeland were in poor to very poor condition across 37% of Oklahoma and 20% of Texas, while some crops were suffering at this early stage.  In Oklahoma, 21% of the canola, 27% of the oats, and 15% of the winter wheat were in poor to very poor condition.”

Midwest
“February 27 USDA reports indicated that 46% of the subsoil and 51% of the topsoil in Missouri, and 27% of the subsoil and 28% of the topsoil in Illinois, were short or very short of moisture.”

Central to Northern Plains
“According to February 27 USDA reports, 56% of the subsoil and 55% of the topsoil in Kansas, and 30% of the subsoil and 25% of the topsoil in Nebraska, were short to very short of moisture, while 21% of the winter wheat in Kansas was in poor to very poor condition.”

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 March 1, 2017.

drought-outlook-us-march-1

$4 Million in Community Development Block Grants Announced by Va. Governor’s Office on Feb. 6, 2017, Include Three Related to Water/Weather

On February 6, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that over $4 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) had been awarded to nine Virginia localities for 10 projects in economic-development, water/sewer infrastructure, and neighborhood revitalization projects.

The water- and weather-related grants included the following:
$879,760 to Appomattox County for relief work after the February 24, 2016, tornado;
$387,500 to Buchanan County for the Coon Branch waterline extension project;
$500,000 to the Northampton County town of Exmore for a well and water-treatment facility.

CDBG grants are federally funded, awarded competitively, administered in Virginia by the Department of Housing and Community Development, and designed to assist primarily low- and moderate-income communities.  More information about the CDBG program in Virginia is available online at http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/business-va-assistance/blighted-structures/community-development-block-grant-cdbg/10-community-development-block-grant-cdbg.html.

Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $4 Million in Community Development Block Grants; Ten projects address community economic development, water and sewer service, local innovation, and urgent needs in nine localities, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/6/17.

Water Week 2017 is March 19-25 in Washington, D.C.

Water Week 2017 is a gathering of people and organizations working in the water utilities sector.  The event will be held March 19-25 in Washington, D.C.  According to the event’s Web site, it is intended to “communicate the value of water to environmental protection, to economic development, and to job creation, and [to] inspire action.”

Organizing groups include the following:
American Water Works Association;
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies;
National Association of Clean Water Agencies;
US Water Alliance;
Water Environment Foundation;
Water Environment and Reuse Foundation;
Water Research Foundation;
WateReuse;
Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.

For more information, visit http://www.waterweek.us/.

Virginians Who Use Private Wells, Springs, or Cisterns Can Get Inexpensive Baseline Testing and Assistance from the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Master Well-owner Network; Drinking-water Clinics in 2017 Run from March 15 to November 1 in over 50 Localities

The Virginia Household Water Quality Program offers drinking-water clinics in which people who rely on private wells, springs, or cisterns can get their water tested inexpensively for key constituents and receive a report interpreting the results.  The cost to participate in 2017 is $55.  The clinics in 2017, running from March 15 to November 1, will cover over 50 localities.  A list of upcoming clinics in 2017 is available at this Web site: http://www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu/events.php.

Meanwhile, as of February 2017, the Virginia Master Well Owner network has over 180 members—volunteers as well as staff from Virginia Cooperative Extension and other state agencies—in several dozen Virginia localities who can assist Virginians with drinking-water well questions and problems.

Both programs are coordinated by the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering.  More information is available online at http://www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu, or contact the coordinator of the programs, Erin James Ling, at (540) 231-9058 or wellwater@vt.edu.

For a news account of the well-testing program, please see Virginia Tech researchers: Flint-like problems also present in Virginia wells, Roanoke Times, 4/10/16.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End 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 end 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 January 2017 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  All values are in inches.

Location January 2017 Observed

 

Monthly Normal February 2016-

January 2017 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 4.50 3.08 44.00 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

4.25 2.90 37.23 39.63
Bristol2

 

2.56 3.37 35.31 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

2.60 2.77 34.32 42.71
Danville

 

3.88 3.42 48.17 44.41
Lynchburg

 

3.78 3.14 43.51 41.57
Norfolk

 

4.41 3.40 68.65 46.53
Richmond

 

4.29 3.04 53.74 43.60
Roanoke

 

4.10 2.92 47.92 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

4.79 3.04 58.59 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 2.73 2.68 33.59 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 31, 2017.  Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.]

precipperc30feb1precipperc60feb1precipperc90feb1 

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 January 2017 at 148 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 80% of gages, below normal at about 3%, and above normal at about 17%.  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-jan2017

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

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 31, 2017, accessed at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa07d&sid=w__plot&r=va on February 1, 2017.

streams-plot-feb1

 

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 31, 2017, showed about 30% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” covering the northern and central Piedmont plus parts of several southwester counties on or near the border with North Carolina.  The January 31 report also showed about 0.5% of Virginia in “moderate drought,” located in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

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

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

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
1/3/17 – 70.9% abnormally dry or worse, 15.4% moderate drought;
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;
2/2/16 – drought-free.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 2/1/17) Drought Status Report on January 17, 2017.  A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  The Task Force is next scheduled to meet on February 9, 2017.  Following is a short excerpt from the January 17 report: “Although precipitation was near normal over most of Virginia during the last month, drier than normal conditions remain over much of the state.  The driest areas cover portions of northern Virginia.  Based upon the current three-month precipitation forecast (see below), the [Task Force] agreed to closely monitor conditions during January and meet again in February, 2017.  If the current dry conditions, especially in northern Virginia, have not lessened, the Task Force will discuss the need for a message to water users across Virginia to raise awareness of the long-term water supply impact of dry winter conditions.”

The Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  As of February 1, 2017, the map’s database was undergoing revisions, so the daily maps are not available for now.

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The January 31, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated 28.3% of the United States (including all or parts of 43 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 3.2% of the country (including parts of 21 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4); this is the lowest nationwide percentage of severe-or-worse drought since 2.3% for the week of October 5, 2010.  (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:
1/3/17 – 40.3% abnormally dry or worse, 7.2% severe drought or worse;
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;
2/2/16 – 26.1% abnormally dry or worse, 7.1% severe drought or worse.

In one state, 50 percent or more of the state was rated by the January 31 Drought Monitor as in severe-or-worse drought:
Connecticut, 76%.

In California, 20% of the state was rated on 1/31/17 as being in severe-or-worse drought.  This severe-or-worse rating is the lowest for the Golden State since the week of November 13, 2012.  California’s current drought began in late 2011 to early 2012.  Following is some more information on California’s drought recovery, from the comments section of the January 31 Drought Monitor:
“…Despite improvements across much of the state, the longer-term impacts of the drought are still being observed in relation to groundwater supplies in various California locations.  In southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority issued a statement declaring that drought conditions in San Diego County have ended.  It should be noted, however, that the state of California is still officially in drought under Governor Brown’s drought declaration (1/17/14).”

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, 2017.

drought-us-feb1

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

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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).

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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