Category Archives: Weather

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!

Severe Weather Predictions and Reports Available Daily from Storm Prediction Center

For predictions of severe weather or for reports and maps of severe weather that has occurred, visit the National Weather Service/Storm Prediction Center online at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/.  The Storm Prediction Center’s daily storm-report maps and notes are available online at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/.  From that link, you can also access the Center’s archive of maps and reports going back several years.  As an example, shown below is the storm report maps for November 29, 2016, when numerous tornadoes and other severe weather were reported in several midwestern, and southern states.  Please note that the daily report maps are considered “preliminary” until the reports can be verified later.

storm-reports-nov29-2016

The Storm Prediction Center site also has several forecast products, including weather watches/warnings and fire outlooks.  Those products are available at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/.

Atlantic Tropical Storm Season-end Report for 2016 Issued December 1 by National Hurricane Center

(Please note: For a 4 min./59 sec. audio version of the season-end summary of the 2016 Atlantic tropical storm season, please see Virginia Water Radio Episode 345, 12-5-16.)

On December 1, 2016, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, published its final monthly summary and its season-end report for the 2016 tropical storm season in the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico).  The Atlantic season runs June 1-November 30.  The report is available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/MIATWSAT.shtml.

One named storm, Hurricane Otto, formed in the Atlantic basin during November 2016.  The Hurricane Center’s report noted that during the period 1981-2010, a named tropical storm has formed in November in about 7 out of every 10 years, and a hurricane has formed about every other year.

Overall during 2016, 15 named storms occurred, seven of which became hurricanes; three of those became “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or above).  The annual average seen during the 30-year period 1981-2010 is 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.  The report also noted that the “accumulated cyclone energy” for 2016—combining strength and duration of storms—was about 40 percent above the 1981-2010 average.  Three strong storms—Matthew, Gaston, and Nicole—produced over 70 percent of the seasonal ACE; many of the other Atlantic basin storms in 2016 were relatively weak, or short duration, or both.

Below is the Hurricane Center’s list of all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin in 2016, with their dates of occurrence and maximum wind speeds (H = hurricane; MH = major hurricane; TD = tropical depression; TS = tropical storm):
H Alex – Jan. 13-15 – 85 mph
TS Bonnie – May 27-June 4 – 45 mph
TS Colin – June 5-7 – 50 mph
TS Danielle – June 19-21 – 45 mph
H Earl – Aug. 2-6 – 80 mph
TS Fiona – Aug. 17-23 – 50 mph
MH Gaston – Aug 22-Sep. 3 – 120 mph
TD Eight – Aug. 28-Sep 1 – 35 mph
TS Hermine – Aug 28-Sep. 3 – 80 mph
TS Ian – Sep. 12-16 – 60 mph
TS Julia – Sep. 13-19 – 40 mph
TS Karl – Sep. 14-25 – 70 mph
TS Lisa – Sep. 19-25 – 50 mph
MH Matthew – Sep. 28-Oct. 9 – 160 mph
MH Nicole – Oct. 4-18 – 130 mph
H Otto – Nov. 21-26 – 110 mph

When completed, reports on individual 2016 storms (including tracks) will be available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/index.php?season=2016&basin=atl.  The archive of advisories on these storms is available online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2016/.

Below is the Hurricane Center’s graph of preliminary (subject to verification) tracks of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes in 2016, as of 12-1-16.

tropical-storms-map

A November 30, 2016, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) news release on the 2016 tropical storm season (“First above-normal Atlantic hurricane season since 2012 produced five landfalling U.S. storms“) noted the following about this year’s season in the  Atlantic basin as well as the Pacific basin:

Atlantic Basin

“For the Atlantic, this was the first above-normal season since 2012.  The Atlantic saw 15 named storms during 2016, including 7 hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole, and Otto), 3 of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew and Nicole).  NOAA’s updated hurricane season outlook in August called for 12 to 17 named storms, including 5 to 8 hurricanes, with 2 to 4 of those predicted to become major hurricanes.

“Five named storms made landfall in the United States during 2016, the most since 2008 when six storms struck.  Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Matthew struck South Carolina.  Tropical Storms Colin and Julia, as well as Hurricane Hermine, made landfall in Florida.  Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005.

“Several Atlantic storms made landfall outside of the United States during 2016: Tropical Storm Danielle in Mexico, Hurricane Earl in Belize, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and Hurricane Otto in Nicaragua.

“The strongest and longest-lived storm of the season was Matthew, which reached maximum sustained surface winds of 160 miles per hour and lasted as a major hurricane for eight days from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7.  Matthew was the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Felix in 2007.  Matthew intensified into a major hurricane on Sept. 30 over the Caribbean Sea, making it the first major hurricane in that region since Poloma in 2008.  It made landfall as a category 4 major hurricane in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and loss of life.  It then made landfall on Oct. 8 as a category 1 hurricane in the U.S. near McClellanville, South Carolina.

“Matthew caused storm surge and beach erosion from Florida through North Carolina, and produced more than 10 inches of rain resulting in extensive freshwater flooding over much of the eastern Carolinas.  The storm was responsible for the greatest U.S. loss of life due to inland flooding from a tropical system since torrential rains from Hurricane Floyd caused widespread and historic flooding in eastern North Carolina in 1999.

“’The strength of Hurricane Matthew, as well as the increased number of U.S. landfalling storms this season, were linked to large areas of exceptionally weak vertical wind shear that resulted from a persistent ridge of high pressure in the middle and upper atmosphere over Caribbean Sea and the western Atlantic Ocean,’” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “’These conditions, along with very warm Caribbean waters, helped fuel Matthew’s rapid strengthening.’”

Pacific Basin
“The eastern Pacific hurricane basin, which covers the eastern Pacific Ocean east of 140 degrees West, produced 21 named storms during 2016, including 11 hurricanes of which 5 became major hurricanes. July through September was the most active three-month period on record for this basin. NOAA’s eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 13 to 20 named storms, including 6 to 11 hurricanes, 3 to 6 of which were expected to become major hurricanes.

“The central Pacific hurricane basin covers the Pacific Ocean west of 140 degrees West to the International Date Line. This basin saw seven tropical cyclones (includes tropical depressions and named storms) during 2016. All seven became named storms, and included three hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Darby made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii, marking the first time in recorded history that two storms in three years struck the Big Island (Darby in 2016 and Iselle in 2014). NOAA’s central Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 4 to 7 tropical cyclones. That outlook does not predict specific ranges of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.”

For a news media report summarizing the 2016 Atlantic tropical storm season, see Several storms left their mark during 2016 hurricane season, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/30/16.

Other Water Central News Grouper tropical storm reports are available online at https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=tropical+storm.

hurricane-matthew

October 5, 2016 (8:15 a.m. EDT) satellite photo of Hurricane Matthew (category 4 at the time), centered between Cuba and Haiti; and Tropical Storm Nicole in the Atlantic northeast of Puerto Rico.  Photo accessed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Web site at http://www.goes.noaa.gov/browsh.html, on 10/5/16, 9:00 a.m. EDT.  NOTE: Z, or Greenwich Mean Time, shown on the photo is 4 hours ahead of EDT and 5 hours ahead of EST.

Virginia Precipitation and Stream Flow for the 7-day Period Ending November 28, 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 November 28, 2016 (information available as of November 29).  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-used-grnov2016-newsltr-jan14-roanoke-river-in-roanoke-at-walnut-street-nov26-09-two November Gaging Station of the Month: Roanoke River at Walnut Street in Roanoke, November 26, 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 November 28, 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-nov28precip-perc-nov-28

Another source of precipitation data is the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, http://water.weather.gov/precip/, 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 may as of 7 a.m. EST on 11/29/16.  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.

rainfall-map-nov28-png


Stream Flow

Seven-day-average Virginia stream flows at different gaging stations as of November 28 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-nov28 stream codes

 

Area of “Extreme” Drought in Virginia’s Southwestern Corner in 11/15/16 U.S. Drought Monitor; First Drought Monitor Rating of Extreme Drought in Va. since September 2010

The weekly National Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for November 15, 2016, showed about 0.1% of Virginia in “extreme drought,” and by the November 22 report, the percentage had increased to about 0.9% of the Commonwealth.  The area covered was in Lee County, Virginia’s most southwestern county. The report on November 15 was the first Drought Monitor indication of extreme drought in Virginia since the weekly report of September 28, 2010.  The November 22 report also showed about 69% of Virginia as “abnormally dry,” about 28% in “moderate drought,” and about 5% in “severe drought.”

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.”

Below is the Drought Monitor’s Virginia map and statistics table for November 22, 2016.

20161122_va_trd

The small area of severe drought in southwestern Virginia is on the northern edge of a much larger area of severe (or worse) drought in the southeastern United States, centered over Alabama and Georgia, including the Atlanta area.  For more on that situation, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Drought in Atlanta, Ga., and Other Parts of the Southeast in 2016.

Back in Virginia, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force, a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent (as of Nov. 28, 2016) Drought Status Report on October 17, 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 Drought Monitoring Task Force also produces a daily map rating drought-status indicators.  Shown below is daily map for November 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.”  Note the  “warning” or “emergency” indicators for precipitation in several areas of the Commonwealth and for groundwater in two areas.  Any given day’s current map and more information on drought status in Virginia are available the Task Force Web site listed above.

imagemap_status-1

On Virginia Water Radio for 11-28-16: Winter Preparedness and Safety

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode, for the week of November 28, 2016, is “Winter Preparedness and Safety, Featuring ‘Drive the Cold Winter Away’ by Timothy Seaman.”  The 3 min./22 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2016/11/episode-344-11-28-16-winter.html, is the annual episode with recommendations for preparing for winter’s cold temperatures, power outages, and fire hazards.  The episode features music by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Va.

snow-heritage-park-pond-snow-and-ice-covered-jan17-2016-radio-344-11-28-16

Snow-covered pond in Blacksburg, Va., January 17, 2016.

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!