Category Archives: Weather

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending January 16, 2017

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending January 16, 2017 (information available as of January 17).  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-smth-river-below-philpott-dam-jan16-2017-closeJanuary 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Smith River just below Philpott Reservoir dam on the Franklin County/Henry County line, January 16, 2017.

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 January 16, 2017.  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.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

precip-jan16precip-perc-jan16

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 map of the continental U.S., 7-day observed precipitation (in inches) as of 7 a.m. EST on 1/17/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

precip-us-jan17

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at different gaging stations as of December 19 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey 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.

streams-jan16

stream codes

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending January 9, 2017

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending January 9, 2017 (information available as of January 10).  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-jan2017-middle-river-at-mt-meridian-near-grottoes-dec16-09

January 2017 Gaging Station of the Month:  Middle River (tributary of South Fork Shenandoah River) at Mt. Meridian (Augusta County), Dec. 16, 2009.

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 January 9, 2017.  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.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

precip-jan10precip-perc-jan-10

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. map of 7-day observed precipitation (in inches) as of 7 a.m. EST on 1/10/17.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

precip-us-jan-10

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at different gaging stations as of December 19 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey 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.

streams-jan9stream codes

Snowfall Prediction and Accumulation Information Sources for Virginia, SE Region, and Nationwide, as of January 2017

When snow is in the forecast, in the sky, or on the ground, here are some sources of information about how much to expect or how much has fallen.  Listed first are sources for information nationwide and the southeastern United States, followed by sources for Virginia.

snow-national-bank-blacksburg-with-17-degrees-jan7-2017-about-7am-used-grouper-1-9-17

Snow and cold in Blacksburg, Va., at 7 a.m. on January 7, 2017.

NATIONWIDE

The National Weather Service (NWS) “Winter Weather Forecasts” Web site is at http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wwd/winter_wx.shtml.

SOUTHEAST UNITED STATES

NWS color-coded maps of predicted precipitation: http://www.weather.gov/srh/.

VIRGINIA

NWS snow-forecast maps and other products are available online from the NWS forecast offices serving Virginia, as follows:

Blacksburg, Va., forecast office: http://www.weather.gov/rnk/winter;

Morristown, Tenn., forecast office (serves far southwestern Virginia): http://graphical.weather.gov/sectors/mrx.php#tabs;

Sterling, Va., forecast office: http://www.weather.gov/lwx/winter (a snowfall map (for the area is available at  http://www.weather.gov/lwx/pnsmap?type=snow);

Wakefield, Va., forecast office: http://www.weather.gov/akq/winter.

During and after snow events in Virginia, preliminary (not official) snowfall totals (and total precipitation amounts) at many locations are available online at the “Virginia Daily Precipitation Reports” link of the Web site of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), at http://www.cocorahs.org/ViewData/StateDailyPrecipReports.aspx?state=VA.

Virginia Water Status Report as of the Beginning of January 2017, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

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

01-icon-precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for December 2016 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  All values are in inches.

Location December 2016 Observed

 

Monthly Normal January 2016-

December 2016 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 3.09 2.95 42.04 40.89

 

Bluefield1

 

3.20 2.91 34.83 39.63
Bristol2

 

5.36 3.37 35.67 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

1.72 3.15 33.58 42.71
Danville

 

1.62 3.27 46.83 44.41
Lynchburg

 

3.10 3.24 42.50 41.57
Norfolk

 

2.54 3.26 68.86 46.53
Richmond

 

2.80 3.26 52.75 43.60
Roanoke

 

2.79 2.94 46.81 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

3.97 3.43 56.42 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 2.36 2.96 35.33 41.54

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

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

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

For graphs of precipitation, visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the Southeast Regional Climate Center’s preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through January 2, 2017.

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

02-icon-streamflow

According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for December 2016 at about 156 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 56% of gages, below normal at about 37%, and much below normal at about 7%.  The color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period is shown below.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are shown in the chart below the map.

streams-dec-2016

stream codes

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

streams-plot-jan2

03-icon-groundwater

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

 04-icon-drought

DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for January 3, 2017, showed about 70.9% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” covering the western and central regions of the state, except for parts of several counties on the western and southwestern borders.  The January 3 report also showed about 15.4% of Virginia in “moderate drought” or worse, covering most of the New River basin, parts of the western Roanoke River basin and eastern Holston basin, and parts of several counties in the northern Piedmont.

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

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

For comparison, here are Virginia ratings from previous Drought Monitors from about one month, two months, three months, and one year ago:
12/6/16 – 68.7% abnormally dry or worse, 27.7% moderate drought or worse, 0.8% severe drought;
11/1/16 – 28.9% abnormally dry or worse, 3.4% moderate drought;
10/4/16 – 13.5% abnormally dry or worse, 0.2% moderate drought;
1/5/16 – 0.01% abnormally dry.

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 12/1/16) Drought Status Report on December 2, 2016.  A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  The Task Force is next scheduled to meet on January 12, 2017.

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is the map for December 12, 2016, the most recent available as of January 4, 2017.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.”  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.
drought-va-dec12-2016
DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The January 3, 2017, U.S. Drought Monitor rated 40.3% of the United States (including all or parts of 46 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 7.2% of the country (including parts of 27 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
12/6/16 – 47.3% abnormally dry or worse, 11.7% severe drought or worse;
11/1/16 – 41.6% abnormally dry or worse, 9.2% severe drought or worse;
10/4/16 – 36.6% abnormally dry or worse, 7.0% severe drought or worse;
1/5/16 – 28.1% abnormally dry or worse, 8.4% severe drought or worse.

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

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

90-DAY DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on January 3, 2017.

drought-outlook-us

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending December 26, 2016

Below are images showing precipitation in Virginia and other areas of the southeastern United States, and stream flow in Virginia, over the seven-day period ending December 26, 2016 (information available as of December 27).   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/.

used-grdec2016-newsfeb11-rappahannock-river-at-remington-dec27-09-used-grouper-1-26-16 December Gaging Station of the Month: Rappahannock River near Remington (Culpeper/Fauquier county line), Dec. 29, 2009.

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 December 26, 2016.  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.  As of that date, these data were provisional (needing to be verified for accuracy and subject to possible revision).

precip-dec26precipperc-dec26

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 7 a.m. EST on 12/27/16.  Please note that UTC, the time shown on the maps at the site, is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

precip-us

Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at different gaging stations as of December 19 are indicated in the map below, from the U.S. Geological Survey 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.

streams-dec26KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of November 2016, Plus a Look at Drought Nationally

Here is the Virginia Water Central News Grouper’s monthly water-status report on precipitation, stream flow, and drought, as of the end of November 2016.  The Virginia Water Resources Research Center thanks the agencies mentioned below for providing the data and maps used in this post.  Icons for precipitation, stream flow, and drought are by George Wills of Blacksburg, Va. (https://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).  For previous monthly water status reports, please see this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Water+Status.

01-icon-precip

Here are National Weather Service (NWS) preliminary (still needing verification) precipitation totals for November 2016 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  All values are in inches.

Location November 2016 Precipitation

 

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

 

Bluefield1

 

2.32 2.69 35.46 39.63
Bristol2

 

3.05 3.10 35.58 41.01
Charlottesville3

 

1.49 3.83 35.69 42.71
Danville

 

1.03 3.36 50.77 44.41
Lynchburg

 

1.17 3.41 44.37 41.57
Norfolk

 

0.98 3.15 69.69 46.53
Richmond

 

1.08 3.24 55.89 43.60
Roanoke

 

1.08 3.40 48.57 41.25
Wallops Island4

 

1.15 2.87 56.73 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 1.77 3.41 36.73 41.54

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

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

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

For graphs of precipitation, visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center (Chapel Hill, N.C) at http://www.sercc.com/climateinfo/precip_maps, where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days; or the NWS’ Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at http://water.weather.gov/precip/ for a map of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.  Shown below are the Southeast Regional Climate Center’s preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through November 30, 2016.  Please note that the scale is different for the 30-day map.

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

02-icon-streamflow

According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for November 2016 at about 153 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were in the normal range at about 37% of gages, below normal at about 43%, and much below normal at about 20%.  The color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period is shown below.  The color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compared flows to historical records for the month are shown in the chart below the map.

streams-map-november

stream codes

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

streams-plot-nov2016

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

04-icon-drought DROUGHT IN VIRGINIA

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

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

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

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

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

The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of 12/6/16) Drought Status Report on December 2, 2016.  A link to the report, along with other current drought-status information, is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx.  The Task Force’s reports typically include information from some or all of the following agencies: University of Virginia Climatology Office, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Virginia departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health, and Environmental Quality.  Following is an excerpt from the December 2 report:

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

The Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below are daily maps for December 1 and December 6, 2016, showing an improvement in conditions in parts of the Commonwealth from rainfall between those dates.  The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions.  For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.”  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

drought-va-dec-1 drought-va-dec6

DROUGHT ELSEWHERE

The November 29, 2016, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about 48.6% of the United States (including all or parts of 46 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor rated about 13.9% of the country (including parts of 38 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).  (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)   In the November 29 report, areas of severe-or-worse drought stretched from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to southwestern Virginia, and from eastern Pennsylvania to Maine.

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
11/1/16 – 41.6% abnormally dry or worse; 9.2% severe drought or worse;
9/27/16 – 38.8% abnormally dry or worse; 6.8% severe drought or worse;
8/30/16 – 37.7% abnormally dry or worse; 6.1% severe drought or worse;
12/1/15 – 32.4% abnormally dry or worse; 12.3% severe drought or worse.

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

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

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

Connecticut, 83%.

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

Kentucky, 90%.

Massachusetts, 64%.

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

New Hampshire, 57%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

90-DAY DROUGHT OUTLOOK

For a look ahead, the National Weather Service/Climate Prediction Center’s “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” is available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.php.  Shown below is the outlook map available on December 1, 2016.

drought-outlook-us-november-17

On Virginia Water Radio for 12-5-16: Audio Snapshots from the 2016 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of December 5, 2016, is “From Alex to Otto, 2016 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season was a Bit Above Normal.”  The 4 min./59 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2016/12/episode-345-12-5-16-from-alex-to-otto.html, is an audio summary of the 2016 tropical storm season for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico.  The episode includes comments from a North Carolina National Guard member and a U.S. Coast Guard admiral on some of the responses to Hurricane Matthew.  (Please note: For a more detailed season-end summary,  see this Water Central News Grouper post.)

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