On Virginia Water Radio for 3-19-18: The March 1862 Civil War Battle of the Ironclads in Hampton Roads

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of March 19, 2018, is “The 1862 Clash of Ironclads in Hampton Roads.”  The 4 min./14 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2018/03/the-1862-clash-of-ironclads-in-hampton.html,  focuses on the Civil War encounter in March 1862 of the first ironclad ships, which took place in Virginia’s Hampton Roads.  The episode features “The Cumberland and the Merrimac” by musician Tom Roush.

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!

Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill on March 20, 2018

Virginia’s annual statewide tornado drill will be held Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 9:45 a.m.  If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be on Wednesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management information about the 2018 drill is available online at http://www.vaemergency.gov/tornadodrill/.

According to that Web site, “the Statewide Tornado Drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems. …At approximately 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios.  This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning.  Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.”

In Town of Pulaski Apr14 03 USED RADIO 3-11-14 Grouper 2-20-18
April 14, 2011, photo of a Pulaski, Va., house damaged by a tornado on April 8 of that year.

On Virginia Water Radio for 3-12-18: A Shorebird Often Found Far from the Beach

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of March 12, 2018, is “Killdeer are Shorebirds Away from the Shore.”  The 4 min./13 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2018/03/episode-411-3-12-18-killdeer-are_13.html, focuses on a type of plover typically found far inland, and one noted for its broken-wing feint when its nest is threatened.  The episode includes music composed for this episode by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg.

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!

Va. Lakes and Watersheds Association’s Leo Bourassa Scholarships for 2018 – April 1 is Deadline to Apply

In 2018, the Virginia Lakes and Watersheds Association (VLWA) is again offering its annual Leo Bourassa Scholarship to Virginia residents who are attending an accredited Virginia college or university.

The  deadline to apply for this year’s scholarships is April 1, 2018.  More information and application forms are available online at http://www.vlwa.org/leo.aspx; or contact Shelly Frie at (757) 671-6222 or scholarship@vlwa.org.

Eligibility criteria are as follows:
Be a student in good standing at any Virginia accredited college or university;
Be a resident of Virginia at the time of application and of the award;
Be a full-time undergraduate student, full-time graduate student, or part-time graduate student; and
Be enrolled in a curriculum related to water resources (including, but not limited to, biology, conservation, ecology, engineering, environmental science, geology, hydrology, limnology, stormwater management, water quality, and wildlife sciences).

Past award recipients are eligible to reapply.

Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipeline Construction under Virginia Bottomlands is Subject of Va. Marine Resources Commission Public Hearing on March 16, 2018

On March 16, 2018, 9:30 a.m., Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) will hold a public hearing to consider the application by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, to install a natural gas pipeline beneath state-owned bottomlands.  At Newport News City Council Chambers, 2400 Washington Avenue in Newport News.  (Click on the meeting date above to access the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice of the public hearing.)

The bottomlands include the bed of 48 non-tidal streams and/or rivers with drainage areas greater than 5 square miles, 3 tidal streams, and approximately 1.6 acres of tidal wetlands.  The waters are along the designated pipeline corridor in the counties (from west to east) of Highland, Bath, Augusta, Nelson, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Cumberland, Nottoway, Dinwiddie, Brunswick, Greensville, and Southampton and in the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk.

Copies of the application may be examined at the VMRC Office, Habitat Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, VA 23607.  Send comments or inquiries to that office.

For more information: Matt Hull, VMRC Secretary, (757) 247-2214, Matt.Hull@mrc.virginia.gov.

For more information on natural gas developments more generally in Virginia since 2015, please see this News Grouper post.


Virginia Water Status Report as of the End of February 2018, 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 2018.  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 2018 at 11 Virginia or near-Virginia locations, along with the “normal” (three-decade average) for this month of the year at each location.  Also shown are the precipitation totals at each location for the previous 12 months and the annual precipitation normals for each location.  The values are in inches.

Location February 2018 Observed Monthly Normal March 2017-

February 2018 Observed

Annual Normal
Blacksburg 4.66 2.81 41.48 40.89
Bluefield1 5.19 2.76 41.16 39.63
Bristol2 7.16 3.45 47.16 41.01
Charlottesville3 4.35 2.70 37.10 42.71
Danville* 2.39 3.01 42.88 44.41
Lynchburg 5.72 2.93 37.20 41.57
Norfolk 1.73 3.12 49.33 46.53
Richmond 2.04 2.76 38.41 43.60
Roanoke 3.98 2.89 39.00 41.25
Wallops Island4 1.85 2.76 47.88 40.84
Washington-Dulles Airport5 4.60 2.74 43.61 41.54

*NWS reported nine days of data missing at Danville in January 2018.

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 High Plains Regional Climate Center at https://hprcc.unl.edu/maps.php?map=ACISClimateMaps), where you can find maps of total precipitation and percent of normal precipitation for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days for all U.S. regions; 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 preliminary maps of the percent-of-normal precipitation for the southeastern United States for the previous 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, through February 28, 2018.


02 Icon Streamflow
According to the U.S. Geological Survey WaterWatch for Virginia (online at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?m=mv01d&r=va&w=map), monthly average stream flow values for February 2018 at 161 stream gages in Virginia and just beyond the state border were as follows, compared to the historical range for each given gage:
within the normal historical range – about 58% of gages;
below normal – about 9%;
much below normal – about 1%;
above normal – about 20%;
much above normal – about 12%.

Shown below is the color-coded, flow-percentile map for this period, at the Web site given in the paragraph above.  The map below the chart shows the color codes/percentile classes used by USGS to compare flows to historical records for the month.

Streams Feb 

KEEP on deskto - Stream flow code graph

An overall look at Virginia streamflow conditions is provided in the USGS WaterWatch summary plot of daily average streamflow conditions, compared to historical records for any given date.  Below is the summary plot for 88 Virginia sites during the 45-day period ending February 27, 2018, accessed on March 1, 2018, at https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?id=pa01d&sid=w__plot&r=va.

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


The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) for February 27, 2018, categorized about 59.7% of Virginia as “abnormally dry” or worse (covering essentially all of the Piedmont and the northern Coastal Plain) and about 12.3 % in “moderate drought” (covering essentially parts of northern Virginia and of Southside).

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:
1/30/18 – 97.9% abnormally dry or worse; 48.6% moderate drought or worse; 2.9% severe drought;
12/26/17 – 97.4% abnormally dry or worse; 42.9% moderate drought;
11/28/17 – 44.1% abnormally dry or worse; 3.9% moderate drought;
2/28/17 – 80.5% abnormally dry or worse; 17.1% moderate drought or worse; 2.9% severe drought;

In early February 2018, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF), a collaboration of state and federal agencies, issued its most recent report (as of 3/5/18).  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 DMTF’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 was next scheduled to meet on March 8, 2018.

The DMTF also produces a map rating drought-status indicators, also online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/Drought/DroughtMonitoring.aspx.  Shown below is the map for February 28, 2018, followed by a map identifying the Drought Evaluation Regions used by the DMTF.  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.”

Va Drought Feb28VA Drought Evaluation Regions map


The February 27, 2018, U.S. Drought Monitor categorized about 50.0% of the United States (including all or parts of 35 states) as being abnormally dry or worse.  The Drought Monitor categorized about 12.0% of the country (including parts of 11 states), as being in severe drought or worse (categories D2, D3, and D4).   (The highest percentage in the severe-or-worse categories reported by the Drought Monitor since it began in 2000 was 38.5% of the country for the week of August 7, 2012.)

The nationwide percentages for abnormally dry or worse (categories D0-D4) and severe or worse (categories D2-D4) in the previous three months and one year ago were as follows:
1/30/18 – 61.9% abnormally dry or worse; 14.4% severe drought or worse;
12/26/17 – 45.8% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% severe drought or worse;
11/28/17 – 35.7% abnormally dry or worse; 4.1% severe drought or worse;
2/28/17 – 34.0% abnormally dry or worse; 3.1% severe drought or worse.

The following states had 50% or more categorized by the February 27, 2018, Drought Monitor in severe-or-worse drought:
Arizona – 74%;
New Mexico – 78%;
Utah – 52%.


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, 2018.
Drought outlook Feb15


On Virginia Water Radio for 3-5-18: Connecting Water to Electric Utility Regulation Legislation in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly

Virginia Water Radio’s episode for the week of March 5, 2018, is “Virginia Electricity Regulation and Water.”  The 4 min./42 sec. episode, available online at http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/2018/03/episode-410-3-5-18-virginia-electricity.html, focuses on the water-and-energy connections to 2018 Virginia General Assembly legislation on regulation of electric utilities in the Commonwealth.

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!