The April 26, 2016, U.S. Drought Monitor rated about over 95 percent of Virginia (everywhere except the southeastern corner) as being “abnormally dry.” The Drought Monitor categorized about four percent of the Commonwealth (on the northwestern and southwestern borders) as being in “moderate drought”; this was the first Drought Monitor designation of moderate drought in Virginia since the week of July 15, 2014.
The Drought Monitor is issued weekly by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; it’s available online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/. The authors note that the assessment “focuses on broad-scale conditions, and local conditions may vary….” The Drought Monitor’s categories, from mildest to most severe, are as follows:
D0 = Abnormally Dry;
D1 = Moderate Drought;
D2 = Severe Drought;
D3 = Extreme Drought;
D4 = Exceptional Drought.
The current Virginia drought map and a link to archived maps are available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?VA. The archive of weekly category ratings for Virginia is available at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/MapsAndData/DataTables.aspx.
For more on drought status in Virginia: The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent Drought Status Report on March 15, 2016, and the group is scheduled to meet again on May 12, 2016. The status reports and other information are available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought.aspx. Information is typically provided by 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 Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators. Shown below is daily map for April 28, 2016. The status-indicator abbreviations on that map are as follows: GW = groundwater levels, Prcp = precipitation deficits, Res – reservoir storage, and Flow = stream flow conditions. For each region of Virginia, the indicators are color coded for “normal,” “watch,” “warning,” or “emergency conditions.” Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.
For monthly water-status reports for Virginia, including updates on drought, please see this Water Central News Grouper link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=Virginia+Water+Status.