Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines

We select interesting and representative drought stories from all over the U.S. and around the world. We group them into the same categories that the Drought Impact Reporter uses, as well as a few others. Subscribe to Drought Headlines Drought Headlines RSS

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

Drought drags on: Storms didn't quench Calif.'s thirst
USA Today, Mar 06, 2014
California
While parts of the Sierra received 2 to 4 feet of snow from recent storms, California needs far more moisture to alleviate the drought.
Drought Eases in Plains, Northwest
Farm Futures (St Charles, Ill.), Feb 27, 2014

Drought intensified in California and parts of the southern Great Plains, but improved in the Northwest.
Northern California gets a big drink, but the state is still thirsty
Los Angeles Times, Feb 10, 2014
California
The storm brought desperately needed snow to northern California, but was only a drop in the bucket. Parts of the northern Sierra received 2 to 4 feet of snow, while Folsom Lake rose by 17 feet.
Latest snowfall helps, but drought conditions persist through parts of Colorado
9news.com (Denver, Colo.), Jan 23, 2014
Colorado
Some of the native grasses in Eastern Colorado have died as that part of the state endures three years of drought, according to the public policy director for the Colorado Farm Bureau. Colorado tends to get substantial precipitation in March and April.
Flagstaff nears record for December-February precipitation-free days
azdailysun.com (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Jan 16, 2014
Flagstaff, Arizona
As of Jan. 16, Flagstaff had gone 26 days without precipitation for the 20th longest dry spell during the December through February time frame.

Agriculture

Persistent Calif. drought to delay U.S. cattle herd rebuilding
The Jamestown Sun (N.D.), Mar 04, 2014
U.S.
As California livestock producers sell their animals, the national cattle herd continues its gradual decline at 87,730 head, the smallest since 1951. Meanwhile, beef prices remain near record highs.
Struggling US wheat may yet deteriorate further
agrimoney.com (Hereford, U.K.), Mar 04, 2014
Southern Great Plains
Winter wheat from Nebraska to Texas is in need of moisture and could have used snow cover to protect the wheat from bitter temperatures. The amount of winter wheat rated good or excellent in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas dropped three, five and four percentage points, respectively, from the previous month to 46, 31 and 5 percent.
Even In A Desert, Drought Spells Trouble For Ranchers
Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Ore.), Mar 02, 2014
Nevada
Low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will mean poor water supplies for northern Nevada and poor alfalfa production. Northern Nevada is an important hay-growing region for the country.
Rice farmers dealt another blow in ongoing drought
KXAN.com (Austin, Texas), Feb 26, 2014
Texas
While rice farmers on the Lower Colorado River did not expect to get water, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality sealed their fate by postponing a decision on trigger levels for releasing water from lakes Travis and Buchanan. This is the third straight year without water for rice growers.
California drought: Feds say farmers won't get any Central Valley Project water this year
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Feb 21, 2014
California
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that there was not enough water in the Central Valley Project to deliver water to farmers, while communities and wildlife get some small amount of water as the state endures its third dry winter.
In 2013, Central Valley farmers received 20 percent of contracted amounts.

Business & Industry

Up in smoke: Less beef on the hoof boosts barbecue restaurants' costs
Dallas Business Journal, Feb 17, 2014
U.S.
Drought and the shrinking cattle herd in the U.S. led the average price of beef to climb to a new high of $5.04 per pound, diminishing the profit margin for Texas barbeque restaurants.
Fishing the North Coast: D-word putting the hurt on local businesses
The Willits News (Calif.), Jan 23, 2014
Northern coast of California
Business is down for North Coast tackle shops, gear distributors, fishing guides, hotels and restaurants because people hear about the drought and think that the fishing is lousy.
Abundant 2013 corn harvest boosts ethanol production
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dec 13, 2013
U.S.
After drought cut into ethanol production in 2012 and 2013, production finally gained steam in mid-October 2013 with lower priced corn and rich supplies.
Port Authority records banner year
StarNewsOnline.com (Wilmington, North Carolina), Dec 12, 2013
Wilmington, North Carolina
Big demand for grain from South America led to record feed grain imports through the port of Wilmington during the 2012-13 fiscal year and a profit of $5.1 million. The previous year’s profit was $394,000.
Canton Businesses on the Brink Months After Oklahoma City Water Withdrawal
StateImpact Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.), Nov 07, 2013
Canton, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City drew water from Canton Lake in January 2013, depleting the lake and causing hardships for Canton. Fewer visitors came to the lake for recreation because the lake was very low, leading to reduced revenue for many businesses. The local grocery store saw a 50 percent reduction in business, while a café near the dam closed for lack of customers.
Remaining business owners wonder how long it might take Canton to recover from the water release that drained Canton Lake and hope that they can hang on until then.

Energy

California may rely on more gas-fired generation due to drought
Reuters, Jan 10, 2014
California
With less water stored in California reservoirs, less hydropower will likely be produced in the state in 2014, leading to greater reliance on natural gas-fired power production.
In 2011, hydropower accounted for an above average 21.3 percent and natural gas was used for 45.4 percent of in-state electricity production. In 2012, dry conditions in California shifted the balance to 13.8 percent hydropower and 61.1 percent gas-fired generation. Hydropower is cheaper than gas-fired power.
Colorado River Hydropower Faces a Dry Future
IEEE Spectrum (New York, New York), Sep 19, 2013
Southwestern U.S.
Drought has lessened the flow through the Colorado River Basin, limiting hydropower generation at dams in the Southwest. At Hoover Dam, five new wide-head turbines are being installed to keep the power plant functioning as water levels decline in Lake Mead. Full capacity power production at Hoover Dam is 2,074 megawatts, but low water levels diminished production to 1,735 MW in August for a decline of just over 8 percent. Power production at Glen Canyon Dam in 2014 is expected to be down by 8 percent.
With the Colorado River providing less water, resulting in reduced hydropower production, the Western Area Power Administration will shell out an estimated $10 million to purchase power supplies in 2014.
Gavins Point Dam releases again set lower
Omaha.com (Nebraska), Sep 08, 2013
Upper Missouri River
Water releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River will be at a minimum, due to ongoing drought in the northern Great Plains. From December through February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release an average of nearly 12,000 cubic feet per second. Winter releases are usually about 17,000 cfs or higher.
Hydropower production at the six mainstem power plants on the upper Missouri River has been low in 2013. Normal power production is 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, but is projected to be just 7.6 billion kilowatt hours this year.
Low water season draws concerns for summer energy
KTVB.COM (Boise, Idaho), Jun 18, 2013
Southwestern Idaho
Officials with Idaho Power are reducing flows in the Snake River to 65,000 cubic feet per second below Hells Canyon Dam to have sufficient water on hand to generate power during the summer when the power demand is highest. Flows on the Snake River are nearing historic lows, forcing some in the Treasure Valley near Boise, Idaho to go without irrigation water, while others may be denied water in the near future.
Corps: Drought Still Issue
Yankton Press & Dakotan (South Dakota), Jun 11, 2013
Upper Missouri River Basin
The six mainstem power plants on the upper Missouri River produced 608 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in May, down from typical May production of 687 kWh as lingering drought reduced runoff, despite abundant rainfall up to three times the historical averages in some parts of the Missouri River basin. Through the rest of 2013, the power plants are expected to produce 7.6 billion kWh of electricity, which is substantially lower than the average annual production of 10 billion kWh.

Fire

Fireworks, open fires, smoking banned on state trust lands
Silver City Sun-News (N.M.), Feb 28, 2014
New Mexico
Deteriorating drought is driving up the fire danger in New Mexico, prompting the state land commissioner to ban fireworks, open fires and smoking on state trust lands.
Amid drought, California and other Western states gird for a landmark year in forest fires
The Washington Post, Feb 14, 2014
Western U.S.
The fire season in the West this year could be devastating if the Red Fire, which burned 333 acres in Humboldt County in early January, is any indication. Humboldt County is usually one of the wettest places in the nation.
Fire managers ready for rain
StatesmanJournal.com (Salem, Ore.), Feb 04, 2014
Oregon
Wildfire activity in Oregon was exceptionally high as 18 fires burned roughly 916 acres through Jan. 28, compared to the 10-year average for the same time period of one fire charring 17 acres, according to the public information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
“It’s been a highly unusual January,” said Russ Lane, an assistant forester for ODF North Cascade District. “Really it’s just drought conditions — lack of rainfall and snowpack. … Our forest fuels (dry debris and dead logs) are just as dry as it would be in August.”
Bay Area in 'extreme drought' - might as well enjoy the sun
SFGate.com (San Francisco, Calif.), Jan 17, 2014
California
More than 150 wildfires have burned in California, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The average number of wildfires for mid-January is about two dozen.
"It all has to do with the fact that things are critically dry," said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "It's definitely disconcerting for us to be three weeks into January and seeing conditions that we'd typically see in early summer."
Dry weather leads to fire restrictions on region’s BLM-managed lands
The Sacramento Bee (California), Jan 09, 2014
California
The Bureau of Land Management announced fire restrictions on public lands that it manages in El Dorado, Amador, Sacramento, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. Unseasonably dry vegetation and high fire danger were the reasons given for the fire restrictions.

Plants & Wildlife

Bees Feeling Effects of California Drought
Capital Public Radio (Sacramento, Calif.), Mar 06, 2014
California
There are fewer California wildflowers making pollen for bees this year since drought has made wildflowers scarce. Although the apiarists feed the bees, they still do not get adequate nutrition, leading to more bee deaths and much lower honey production.
Recent drought years have put a dent in honey production at Johnson Apiaries near Modesto.
Drought conditions prompt earliest trout stocking in 20 years for Northern Nevada
Reno Gazette-Journal (Nev.), Feb 12, 2014
Nevada
The Nevada Department of Wildlife began stocking rivers, streams and lakes in western Nevada earlier than it has in the last 20 years before water bodies become further depleted. A supervising fisheries biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife said that they needed to release the fish quickly or the NDW would be left with nowhere to put the 428,000 fish that are typically released between late March and October.
Warm-water sport fish like catfish, bass and walleye are not expected to survive at Rye Patch and Lahontan reservoirs where water levels are low.
Low and slow
Medford Mail Tribune (Oregon), Jan 24, 2014
Southwestern Oregon
Steelhead have not moved out of the Rogue River into the Applegate River, due to low flows as area rainfall fell to a historic low. Applegate Lake was at its lowest point since the lake was created in 1980, at more than 29 feet below the average late-January level, leaving no extra water to release.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced the flow from Applegate Dam to 80 cubic feet per second, which is 20 cfs less than the project’s minimum flows for wild salmon and steelhead protection. The corps hopes to retain as much water as possible behind the dam to use in the summer, keeping river flows high and cool enough to protect wild fall chinook salmon and winter steelhead that hatch and rear in the Applegate.
Experts Warn California Drought Bringing Black Bears Out Of Hibernation Early
CBS Sacramento (Calif.), Jan 21, 2014
California
California bears are emerging from hibernation three months early, but drought has reduced natural food sources for bears, which could easily lead them to dine from neighborhood trash cans and other residential sources.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Releases 750,000 Salmon Into Death Zone
GoldenGate Salmon Association (Petaluma, Calif.), Jan 20, 2014
Sacramento River in California
The Coleman national fish hatchery plans to release 73,000 baby salmon into the Sacramento River, although the fish probably will not survive, due to adverse river conditions. Nearly 750,000 salmon have been released into the low river over the last five weeks, despite salmon advocates’ strong opposition to the releases.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Gov. Brown Signs Off On $687 Million Drought Plan For California
CBS San Francisco, Mar 01, 2014
California
Gov. Brown signed the drought legislation, allowing thirsty communities, farmers with fallowed fields and unemployed farmworkers to access emergency aid. The plan includes $472 million in accelerated grant funding for water conservation and recycling projects and $15 million for food and housing for those unemployed, due to drought.
Governor Perry Extends Drought Declaration
Myhighplains.com (Amarillo, Texas), Feb 17, 2014
Texas
The governor of Texas initially made the drought declaration on July 5, 2011 and has extended it since then as drought continued.
Obama Announces Aid for Drought-Stricken California
The New York Times, Feb 14, 2014
California
President Obama announced financial assistance to help California get through the drought gripping the state. He offered $100 million in livestock-disaster assistance for California ranchers, $60 million for food banks to help families hurt financially by the drought, $5 million for conservation assistance in the hardest-hit drought areas, $5 million for watershed protection and $3 million in emergency grants for rural communities with water shortages.
Feds announce another $14M for California drought
Associated Press, Feb 05, 2014
California
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Natural Resources Conservation Service announced $14 million for water management improvements in California, in addition to $20 million in aid announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Brown tells Californians to conserve amid drought
Associated Press, Jan 30, 2014
California
Before Gov. Jerry Brown met with local water district officials in Los Angeles, he urged Californians to take shorter showers, turn of the water while cleaning teeth and flush the toilet as little as possible to conserve water. While water conservation remained voluntary, Brown said that "every day this drought goes on, we're going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing."

Society & Public Health

Drought linked to polluted winter air
Los Angeles Times, Mar 04, 2014
California
Air pollution in California was a bigger problem than it has been in previous winters as drought, low wind speeds and stagnant conditions kept pollutants close to the ground.
Air in the San Joaquin Valley exceeded federal standards for fine particulate matter on 66 days and was the most polluted in the state. In the Bay Area, the Air Quality Management District declared 30 “spare the air” days, when residential wood-burning was prohibited. There were only 10 spare the air alerts last winter.
California farmers brace for drought, unemployment
Yahoo! News, Feb 02, 2014
Central Valley of California
California officials are bracing for a wave of high unemployment in the rural towns of the Central Valley as drought brings job losses. Rick Palermo of Community Food Bank in Fresno was scoping out locations for handing out food in Mendota, Firebaugh and other small communities. During the dry spell in 2009, unemployment rates were very high in the Central Valley.
Gold rush? California’s drought attracts gold prospectors to low rivers
Los Angeles Daily News, Jan 27, 2014
Northern California
Gold prospectors were taking advantage of low river levels in Placer County to look for gold along river banks that have not been dry in nearly 100 years. A man panning for gold along the Bear River in Colfax found a chip of gold about one-fourth the size of a pea.
Drought Provides Window to Old West
The Wall Street Journal (New York), Jan 26, 2014
Western U.S.
Low water levels in lakes across the Western U.S. are revealing hidden historical artifacts not seen in many years. Lake Folsom in California, Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border and Lake Buchanan near Austin are some of the lakes sharing their secrets.
Dust In The Wind – A "Silent Epidemic" Rises In The Southwest
JDSupra (Sausalito, Calif.), Jan 21, 2014
Southwestern U.S.
Drought in California has coincided with a dramatic increase in the number of Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever or cocci) cases in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Valley Fever is caused by a fungus that becomes airborne when soil is disturbed by strong winds or other events. Most of the time, infection goes unnoticed, but in rare cases, it can be fatal.

Tourism & Recreation

California's Springtime Wonders Struck by Drought
LiveScience (New York, N.Y.), Feb 25, 2014
California
Horsetail Fall and Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park have been dry for most of February. Horsetail Fall flows in the winter and early spring as snow melts, but this year the flow has been negligible until storms brought enough precipitation to bring the fall back to life.
Drought drives down ski business, discourages snow lovers
Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb 12, 2014
New Mexico
The lack of snow is hampering business at ski resorts in northern New Mexico. Pajarito Mountain Ski Area suspended operations, snow mobile tours around Red River have to travel an hour to get to the snow, but Ski Santa Fe is 95 percent open.
Drought hits ski towns hard
CNN Money, Feb 07, 2014
Northern California, Oregon and Idaho
Numerous small ski resorts in northern California, Oregon and Idaho have not received enough snow to be able to open, resulting in revenue losses not only for the ski resorts, but also for local hotels, restaurants and bars.
Local rivers closed to fishing by state
The Salinas Californian, Jan 29, 2014
California
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed some rivers and streams to fishing in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties to protect salmon and steelhead populations while river flows are low. The CDFW is also considering additional river closures, including sections of the American River and Russian River.
Ski Resorts Seen as Buyout Targets Amid U.S. West Drought
Bloomberg, Jan 27, 2014
California, Nevada
Many ski resorts have gotten just a small fraction of the snow they usually receive by this point in the season, cutting deeply into revenue, which may lead to larger ski resorts buying up smaller ones.
Snowfall has not been so low at the 25 ski resorts in California since the 1971-72 season, according to the California Ski Industry Association. Resorts have to find ways to cut costs until conditions improve.

Water Supply & Quality

Williams declares water crisis
Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Mar 05, 2014
Williams, Arizona
Williams, Arizona, which relies on surface water for its municipal supply, is in a water crisis. This winter brought very little snow to the area, leaving the city relying on two wells to fill the city’s reservoir.
Aquifer levels sinking fast
San Antonio Express-News (Texas), Mar 04, 2014
San Antonio, Texas
The dropping level of the Edwards Aquifer near San Antonio may bring the strictest water restrictions the area has ever seen by the summer if more rain does not fall to replenish the aquifer. If the area goes to stage IV, pumping from the aquifer must be cut by 40 percent.
California will tap its water bank, even as Lake Mead shrinks
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mar 01, 2014
Lake Mead on Nevada/Arizona border
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California used about 80,000 acre-feet from Lake Mead in 2013, in addition to the one million acre-feet it gets annually, and is considering withdrawing at least twice that much in 2014, which would drop the level of Lake Mead two feet. Lake Mead is a water bank for southwestern states and Mexico.
California drought: Snowpack grows, but not enough
SFGate (San Francisco, Calif.), Feb 28, 2014
California
A snow survey on Feb. 27 found that the California snowpack was 24 percent of average for this time of year. The runoff from the Sierra Nevada comprises one-third of California’s water supply.
Mandatory 50% water cutbacks ordered by Russian River district
The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.), Feb 24, 2014
California
Water users in Ukiah Valley must cut their water use in half beginning in March as the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District strives to slow the water use from Lake Mendocino, which held about 41.7 percent of capacity. The district sells water to seven municipal water districts and roughly 40 farmers.

International

Jamaica dispatches water trucks amid drought
FindLaw (Eagan, Minn.), Mar 07, 2014
Jamaica
Drought dried up water sources in western Jamaica, prompting the government to truck in water.
World Food Prices Advance Most in 19 Months on Weather Woes
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Mar 06, 2014

Drought in the U.S., Brazil, Australia and Southeast Asia drove food prices 2.6 percent higher in February, the biggest increase in 19 months, as wheat, sugar, coffee and other crops took a hit from dry conditions.
Israel Suffers From Unprecedented Drought, Water Authority Says
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Mar 04, 2014
Israel
February was even drier than January, said the Israeli Water Authority.
Authorities in Jordan were considering a nationwide rationing plan to extend the country’s water supplies since it has received just 34 percent of average precipitation this winter.
Water crisis as drought dries up Malaysian reservoirs
Breitbart, Feb 19, 2014
Malaysia
The country is planning to try cloud seeding to wring some precipitation out of the atmosphere around Kuala Lumpur as the region’s reservoirs run low. Reservoirs in the central states held about 50 percent of capacity, while at least one community needed water brought in.
Drought parches Sri Lanka's farms, threatens hydropower
Thomson Reuters Foundation (London) , Feb 16, 2014
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has not received substantial rainfall since November 2013, allowing the island’s longest river, the Mahaweli to dwindle. The chief climatologist at the Department of Agriculture expects rice production to be down 7 to 10 percent on account of the dry weather.

Research

Can planners stop drought harming the tourist dollar?
environmentalresearchweb (Bristol, U.K.), Nov 18, 2013

Tourism and recreation industry representatives should be involved in drought preparedness activities for the benefit of the state and the tourist/recreation industry.
Gold found growing in eucalyptus trees in world-first CSIRO research
Australian Broadcast Corporation, Oct 23, 2013
Australia
Eucalyptus trees in Australia were found to have particles of gold in the trees’ leaves, twigs and bark. The trees’ roots grew down 30 meters to find moisture and tapped into gold underground.
Pollen Study Points to Drought as Culprit in Bronze Age Mystery
The New York Times, Oct 22, 2013
Israel
Fossilized pollen revealed that drought probably led to the collapse of civilization in modern-day Israel.
Extreme weather can be the 'most important cause of poverty'
BBC News (London), Oct 15, 2013

Research by the Overseas Development Institute revealed that drought and other extreme weather events will be the primary cause of poverty in 2030 and will hinder work to eradicate poverty.
Massive spruce beetle outbreak in Colorado tied to drought, according to new CU study
University of Colorado Boulder, Oct 10, 2013
Colorado
Research from the University of Colorado in Boulder found that high in the northern Colorado mountains, drought was the main trigger for a massive spruce beetle outbreak.

Mitigation

Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter
The Sacramento Bee (California), Nov 11, 2013
California
Cloud seeding will continue to be used in California during the 2013-14 winter to boost snowfall and increase water supplies in a state that has endured two years of drought. Cloud-seeding efforts in California began more than 60 years ago and involve the spraying of silver iodide into clouds.
Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'
National Public Radio (Washington, D.C.), Oct 31, 2013
U.S.
Farmers trying to find crops that need less water are rediscovering grain sorghum, and people searching for healthier foods are buying more of it.
USDA study shows benefits of weaning calves early
Drovers Cattle Network (Lenexa, Kansas), Aug 29, 2013

Weaning calves early during drought allows cows to gain more weight and achieve better body condition than cows with nursing calves. Consequently, less harvested feedstuffs were needed for cows to maintain adequate body weights and condition during the winter.
USDA Recommends New Practice to Combat Drought
WIUM-FM Tri States Public Radio (Macomb, Illinois), Aug 27, 2013
Illinois, Midwest
The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service says that drain water management techniques can help farmers cope with drought as they regulate how much water is allowed to drain from a field. A device can be attached to the ends of tile lines to act as a valve to keep needed moisture from draining away.
FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: Cover crops boost yield in dry years
The Quincy Herald-Whig (Ill.), Aug 21, 2013
Midwest
The use of cover crops boosted agricultural output in drought-stricken areas in 2012. In the fall of 2012 from a survey of more than 750 farmers in the Midwest, corn crops planted after cover crops yielded 9.6 percent more corn in comparison with side-by-side fields without cover crops. Soybean yields were 11.6 percent higher following cover crops.
In the driest parts of the Corn Belt, the differences were even more striking, with an 11 percent increase in yield for corn and a 14.3 percent yield increase for soybeans.
Drought Headlines Archive

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