Saturday, July 30, 2016

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

Weather watchers express concern over ‘flash drought’
Seguin Gazette (Texas), Jul 15, 2016
Texas weather forecasters fear that a flash drought is developing in the central part of the state because precipitation has fallen to 25 percent of normal for the past 30 days.
Research: California years away from making drought recovery
San Francisco Chronicle (, Jun 22, 2016
Drought recovery in California could take four years, even with above-normal snowfall in the Sierra Nevada during the next several winters, said a researcher from UCLA.
Corn Belt Could Have ‘Flash Drought’ This Summer, U.S. Says
Bloomberg, Jun 16, 2016
High temperatures and a reduction in rainfall could lead to a flash drought in the Corn Belt, the Climate Prediction Center warned. Drought development may recur in Oregon and Washington also.
Parts of eastern New York on the cusp of drought conditions
WIVB News 4 (Buffalo, N.Y.), Jun 03, 2016
Eastern New York
Parts of eastern New York were abnormally dry with rivers and streams at near-record lows in some areas. Precipitation was below average during the winter and spring.
Is Utah’s drought over? It depends on whom you ask
The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), Jun 02, 2016
Utah’s reservoirs still need more snowmelt and runoff to refill, leading some local experts to feel that the drought has not yet ended. Statewide reservoirs averaged 64 percent of capacity, one percent less than in 2015.


Corn lacking potassium due to extremely dry soil
Tri State Neighbor (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Jul 20, 2016
Northeastern South Dakota
The extremely dry soil prevented corn from taking up potassium from the soil, which can cause plant leaves to show a yellowing and necrosis along leaf edges with worse symptoms at the tip.
Parched fields, stressed crops leaves farmers concerned
Lansing State Journal (Mich.), Jul 20, 2016
Corn and soybeans in Ingham and Eaton counties were stressed and underdeveloped, and likely will not produce good yields even if adequate rainfall were to return, according to experts. Corn was uneven in height, and soybeans were particularly small.
Wheat, on the other hand, benefited from the dryness because diseases were kept at bay.
Drought takes a toll on farmers
Olean Times Herald (N.Y.), Jul 19, 2016
Southwestern New York
A second cutting of hay was less than 10 percent of average in Great Valley and wasn’t worth the cost of fuel, stated a farmer. While some fields in Allegany County look alright, other fields have spots where seeds did not germinate. Crop yield and quality will probably be down.
Drought Conditions Taking Toll on Western SD Cattle Producers
WNAX 570 (Yankton, S.D.), Jul 12, 2016
South Dakota
Cattle producers in western South Dakota were running short on pasture and hay as drought stopped pasture growth. Several counties, including Lawrence, Meade and Pennington were declared natural disaster areas due to drought.
Heat wave could be calamitous for farmers
The Union Daily Times (S. C.), Jul 12, 2016
South Carolina
Some of South Carolina’s dryland corn has burned up, while nearly all of the state’s corn will have significant reductions in yield. Farmers were irrigating heavily if they were able, but it adds considerable cost to crop production.

Business & Industry

Barge traffic makes a resurgence on the Missouri River
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 30, 2016
Missouri River
Drought was among a number of factors leading shippers to abandon the Missouri River as a transportation corridor as public ports from Sioux City, Iowa to St. Louis disappeared during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Increasingly, grain, scrap metal, fertilizer and other commodities were again being moved by barge.
California craft beer brewers balance drafts and drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), Oct 11, 2015
As California communities strive to meet their water conservation goals, those communities also ask businesses, including craft beer brewers, to slash water use. While larger breweries might have the capital to increase water use efficiency, smaller ones in many cases do not.
Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave
The New York Times, Aug 19, 2015
Continued economic growth requires building more homes, creating new jobs and drawing in more people, but it is not clear that water supplies will be able to meet demand. Some see drought as being cyclical, while other view it as the new normal, leading to conflicting perspectives on new development.
California drought brings a golden lining
The Sacramento Bee, Jun 22, 2015
Sierra Nevada, California
Low water levels in California’s drought-sapped rivers and streams have exposed more riverbed for prospectors seeking gold. Some stretches have become too dry for panning and sluicing, but in the meantime, prospectors keep finding new areas rich with gold. Hardware and mining supply stores from Columbia in Tuolumne County to Auburn in Placer County benefited from the renewed interest of locals and tourists hoping to find a few pieces of gold.
Bottled-water business grows during drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), May 10, 2015
Californians were becoming increasingly outraged at companies bottling and selling the state’s water amid a four year drought. Crystal Geyser Water Co. was opening a plant at the base of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County and intends to take up to 365,000 gallons of groundwater daily, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nearby residents worry that the plant will run their wells dry.


Water conservation has saved energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, study finds
Los Angeles Times, Jun 07, 2016
Water conservation in California between June 2015 and February 2016 resulted in energy savings of 922,543 megawatt-hours, which is enough to power 135,000 homes for a year, and also reduced greenhouse gas emissions, found researchers from the University of California-Davis. During that time, Gov. Jerry Brown’s initial emergency conservation program was in effect, requiring all water users to curb their use by 25 percent. Electric utilities and water districts were also ordered to submit reports on their operations, reports that were used by UC Davis to determine the savings.
Easing Drought Boosts California Hydropower, For Now
Climate Central, Jun 01, 2016
Spring hydropower generation has reached its highest level since 2011, thanks to near-average snowfall this winter in the Sierra Nevada, helping power production to rebound from the 15-year low reached last year.
Group Claims the Drought is Driving Up California Electric Rates
Power Talk 1360 (Modesto, Calif.), Feb 10, 2016
The Pacific Institute has noted a relationship between drought and rising electric rates and produced a report on the topic.
In Parched California, a Farmer’s Market Is Emerging for Power
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Sep 03, 2015
California farmers were pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of drought and were using hundreds of millions of dollars more electricity than normal to power the pumps. In the Central Valley, farmers may use groundwater to meet more than 60 percent of their irrigation needs in 2015, one-third more than a normal year, At that rate, electric bills would rise 77 percent, or $600 million, compared to a year with normal precipitation.
California First To Feel Hydro-Power Crunch Of Drought
CBS2/KCAL9 (Studio City, Calif.), Mar 21, 2015
During the past three years, declining hydropower production in California cost utility customers $1.4 billion as power from alternate sources, such as natural gas-fired plants, was purchased to compensate for reduced hydroelectric production. The use of more fossil fuels also drove California carbon dioxide emissions up 8 percent.
Hydropower production at Lake Mead in May is expected to dip to 50 percent of mid-2014 levels.


Dry weather prompts fire restrictions through the county
Cache Valley Daily (Utah), Jul 15, 2016
Northern Utah
Hot, dry weather led the Utah State Forester to prohibit the use of fireworks, campfires, target shooting and smoking in many unincorporated areas of Cache County.
Burning bans could impact area fireworks
Lansing State Journal (Mich.), Jun 27, 2016
Dozens of burning bans were in effect around Lansing, Michigan as dry weather increased the fire danger at a time of year when the public often lights fireworks. Burning bans were in effect in Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Leslie and Dansville, in addition to many other townships in Ingham County.
The Delta Township Fire Department issued a burning ban for all of Delta Township in Eaton County and Eagle and Watertown Townships in Clinton County. DeWitt Township fire officials also banned fireworks use, according to the township's Facebook page. Burning bans were also in place in the Grand Ledge and Portland areas.
Officials confirm 2 deaths in out-of-control fire in Kern County
Los Angeles Times, Jun 24, 2016
Near Lake Isabella in southern California
A wind-driven wildfire claimed more than 19,000 acres and at least 80 homes and another 20 structures near Lake Isabella, east of Bakersfield. The blaze continued to threaten 1,500 homes and displayed erratic behavior. Residents were evacuated from nearby communities.
Dry spring makes southern Maine a hot spot for ground fires
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Jun 21, 2016
Southern Maine
Ground fires were already occurring in southern Maine and in neighboring New Hampshire as the warm, dry winter and dry spring allowed the fire season to begin earlier. Ground fires typically occur in August and September after the heat of summer has dried out the ground.
Wildfires threaten homes, businesses in six western states
USA Today, Jun 17, 2016
Western U.S.
Fourteen major wildfires were burning in the West on the morning of June 17, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Strong winds and heat in the West have contributed to wildfires in areas such as Santa Barbara County, Calif., New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Wildfires have burned more than 1.8 million acres in the U.S. since the start of the year, the most by this date in 5 years and about 200,000 acres above average, according to the fire center.

Plants & Wildlife

Feds: Drought kills 66 million trees in California's Sierra
San Francisco Chronicle (, Jun 22, 2016
California's Sierra Nevada
Roughly 66 million trees died since 2010 in a six-county region of California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada most severely affected by the drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warm temperatures, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The tree mortality from Tuolumne to Kern counties rose by 65 percent since the last figures were announced in October 2015, which documented 40 million dead trees. The sheer number of dead trees could fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives, said officials.
Tree die-off in local forests caused by past drought years
Medford Mail Tribune (Oregon), Jun 06, 2016
Three years of drought and insects have killed numerous trees in Southern Oregon forests. Douglas firs were the most common victim, but even more drought-resistant Ponderosa pines were succumbing to the dryness. From the Applegate Valley north into the Willamette Valley, the orange hue of dead conifers marks the landscape, with the numbers of dead trees eclipsing that of the mid-1990s and the early 2000s when years of less intense drought changed the countryside. An aerial mapping survey will be conducted by the Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry in July, as has been done annually since the late 1940s, to determine the scale of the die-off.
US agency's Nevada boss urges roundup of 4,000 mustangs
The Sacramento Bee, May 02, 2016
Elko County, Nevada
U.S. Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director John Ruhs would like to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County because the drought-affected rangeland was deteriorating, but the agency does not have the funds for such a round up. Apart from the large roundup, it was unlikely that he could lift livestock grazing restrictions in the northeast corner of Nevada. The mustangs were on four herd-management areas covering over 600 square miles.
US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
The 2012 drought did not turn the U.S. into a net carbon source, as occurred during Europe’s hot summer in 2003, but the country continued to be a carbon sink. As it turns out, the warm spring prompted vegetation to begin growing earlier, thus absorbing more carbon.
Lake Tahoe-Truckee bear activity driven by severe drought
Sierra Sun (Truckee, Calif.), Mar 25, 2016
Near Lake Tahoe in Nevada
As drought persisted in Nevada, the harm became more apparent as the number of bears killed each year rose. In 2011, three bears were hit and killed by vehicles; in 2012, nine bears died; in 2013, 18 bears died in collisions; and in 2015, the count rose to 21 bears, according to the public information office for Nevada Dept. of Wildlife.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Drought Watch Issued For New York State
Adirondack Almanack (N.Y.), Jul 15, 2016
New York
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a drought watch for the state of New York on July 15. A watch is the lowest level of drought advisory.
Much of Mass. placed under a drought watch
The Boston Globe, Jul 12, 2016
Massachusetts’ Drought Management Task Force issued a drought watch for much of the central and northeastern part of the state and a drought advisory for the Connecticut River Valley and Southeastern Massachusetts. Those in the watch were to conserve water and to be cautious with outdoor burning and smoking materials.
Governor Daugaard Activates State Drought Task Force
South Dakota State News, Jul 11, 2016
South Dakota
Gov. Daugaard of South Dakota activated the state’s Drought Task Force, which met on July 11 in Pierre. The task force permits agencies to share information to respond appropriately and be prepared in case drought conditions continue.
State Issues 'Drought Advisory,' Farmers Worried Lack of Rainfall Damaging Crops
Hartford Courant (Conn.), Jun 27, 2016
Connecticut’s Department of Public Health declared a drought advisory on June 27 and urged residents to follow guidelines for conserving water. Much of the state was about six inches behind on rainfall.
US giving $48 million to help West deal with drought
Yahoo! News, Jun 23, 2016
The Obama administration offered $48 million in grants in 13 states, largely in the West, to assist farmers and others with water and energy conservation amid drought and climate change. The grants will cover improvements to irrigation and water delivery systems, in addition to technical assistance for planning and engineering conservation measures. The funds will go toward 76 projects and save 123,000 acre-feet of water annually, stated Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez. Those projects are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Vilsack noted that $15 million of the grants will come from his department and $32.6 million from the Bureau of Reclamation, part of the Interior Department.

Society & Public Health

13 Montana Counties Under Drought Alert
Flathead Beacon (Mont.), Jul 19, 2016
Nine counties in southern and northwestern Montana were added to the list of counties under drought alerts. The most recent additions were Carter, Carbon, Yellowstone, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Powell, Ravalli, Missoula and Sanders. Drought alerts took effect for Glacier, Pondera, Teton and northern Lewis and Clark counties in June.
Dry weather bringing people, bears together in New England
Central CT Communications, Jul 03, 2016
New England

The dry weather in Connecticut diminished the berry crop, driving black bears to bird feeders, garbage cans and backyards grills in search of food. People need to be aware of their surroundings. The Maine Warden Service had already received more than 200 bear complaints as of mid-June, compared to last year when they received about 400 complaints for the entire year.

Rescued elephant delivers calf at Dallas Zoo
CBS News, May 24, 2016
Dallas, Texas
An elephant evacuated from Swaziland in southern Africa birthed a 175-pound male calf. His weight was on the low side because his mother could not find enough food while in Swaziland.
Casino magnate Wynn envisions water paradise in dry Nevada
The Washington Post, May 25, 2016
Las Vegas
A Las Vegas casino magnate’s idea for a water park has not been received with enthusiasm in the desert city where water is scarce. The Paradise Park development proposal revealed by Wynn Resorts in April would center on a 38-acre, man-made lake built on the site of an 18-hole golf course. Steve Wynn, the CEO of Wynn Resorts, said the park would be an amenity paid for by the resorts fee on hotel rooms at his Wynn and Encore properties, in addition to a new 1,000-room hotel tower. Others would pay a $20 to $30 entrance fee to enjoy the festive “lunacy.”
Swimmer, boaters advised to be extra cautious at Percy Priest Lake
WSMV-TV Nashville, May 20, 2016
North central Tennessee
Meager rainfall in recent months dropped the level of Percy Priest Lake by about three feet, so boaters and swimmers ought to exercise caution while recreating in the lake.

Tourism & Recreation

As Lake Powell recedes, Glen Canyon reveals its secrets
Durango Herald (Colo.), Apr 13, 2016
Lake Powell in southern Utah
Lake Powell was at 104 feet below full pool, which allows hikers to access areas not seen since before the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in the 1950s.
Upper Big Falls in San Bernardino National Forest closed as rescues more than triple
Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2015
A seven-acre area around Upper Big Falls in the San Bernardino National Forest was closed by the park on Oct. 8 because too many climbers have chosen to scale the face of the falls and needed to be rescued.
Skiers, resorts cast hopeful eye toward El Niño
Los Angeles Times, Oct 02, 2015
California ski resorts, hoping to sell plenty of season passes, were hedging their bets by offering incentives, such as discounts or guarantees, if deep powder does not materialize this winter as in past winters. At some resorts, for instance, skiers can get discounts on next year’s season pass if the skier is unable to ski more than a certain number of days this winter.
Drought forces cancellation of Lake Elsinore Grand Prix
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), Aug 20, 2015
Riverside County, California
The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, scheduled for November, was canceled for lack of water. Due to mandated water conservation, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District cannot provide the roughly 1 million gallons of potable water needed to rebuild and maintain the racetrack and control dust. The district offered recycled water, but there were not enough access points to distribute the water to meet the Grand Prix’s needs.
California drought hasn't killed summer vacations
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 09, 2015
Despite years of drought, travel spending continued to climb 3.6 percent in 2014 to $117.5 billion. This year was also on track to be another great year, despite boat ramps, swimming and picnic areas being closed at some lakes.

Water Supply & Quality

Arizona earns federal assurances on Lake Mead water
Tucson Arizona Daily Star (Ariz.), Jul 21, 2016
Water that Arizona stored in Lake Mead to slow its decline will not be released without consent of all three Lower Basin States through the end of 2016. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona got the commitment from Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor in a letter, but had been trying to get such a commitment inserted into legislation. By the end of 2016, Arizona, California and Nevada will have left more than 400,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead since 2014 to slow the lake’s decline.
Low Stream Flows on Bitterroot and Other Rivers Could Lead to Extreme Drought
1240 KLYQ (Hamilton, Mont.), Jul 20, 2016
Missoula and Ravalli counties entered drought alert status this week, due to low flows on the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers. Early snowmelt in April sent the rivers high earlier in the season, leaving the Bitterroot running at about 423 cubic feet per second, in comparison with a normal of 700 cfs.
Waterwise: “Worst” drought condition on Tule Reservation
Visalia Times-Delta (Calif.), Jul 20, 2016
The 350 homes on the Tule River Reservation lost running water in June and rely on bottled water. There was talk about expanding storage at several dams to increase capacity.
Drought triggers Aquarion call for water conservation
Greenwich Time (Conn.), Jul 15, 2016
Aquarion Water Company asked its customers to conserve water and reduce non-essential outdoor water use because rainfall was below normal while water demand was extremely high, putting Aquarion’s reservoirs and wells below normal capacity. Aquarion serves approximately 192,300 customer accounts or more than 625,000 people in 51 cities and towns throughout Connecticut's Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex and New London counties. The April through June period was the state's eleventh driest on record.
As dry weather continues, water restrictions spring up
Manchester Union Leader (N.H.), Jun 29, 2016
New Hampshire
Seventy towns and water systems in New Hampshire have restricted or banned outdoor water use as the region remained dry since the winter. Precipitation has been down about eight inches over the last six months. Some of the towns and water districts with restrictions include Merrimack Village District, the Hampstead Area Water Company, Milford, Salem, and Hooksett.


An Archaeological Mystery In Ghana: Why Didn't Past Droughts Spell Famine?
IdeaStream (Cleveland, Ohio), Jul 20, 2016
Prior to the slave trade and British colonialization, Ghana’s people did not experience the hungry season, even when droughts occurred.
El Nino driving child marriage and labor across southern Africa: agencies
Reuters, Jul 20, 2016
Southern Africa
Southern African children were forced into early marriages or child labor, due to drought and hunger. High food prices leave families little choice but to allow children to trade sex or domestic labor to survive.
Clashes over water in southern Iran kill 1, injure 30
Las Vegas Sun, Jul 19, 2016
Fighting between supporters and opponents of a water project in Iran resulted in at least one death and 30 injured. Some oppose the project because they fear there would not be enough water left to meet the needs of locals. Drought has led to water shortages across Iran.
Malagasy children bear brunt of severe drought
ReliefWeb, Jul 13, 2016
Up to 47 percent of children under five years of age in Southern Madagascar experience stunting—being too short for their age due to malnutrition—stemming from drought. Stunting limits physical and cognitive capacities.
El Nino, La Nina could lead to spike in new HIV infections in Africa: UNICEF
Reuters, Jul 12, 2016
Southern Africa
It is feared that women and girls in drought-stricken southern Africa will sell sex to get money for food to survive. Without food, people sometimes refuse to take their anti-retroviral therapy, or choose to spend what little money they have on food rather than transport to a health facility.


Rainfall following drought linked to historic nitrate levels in Midwest streams in 2013, Jun 07, 2016

Periods of drought followed by rainfall caused nitrate levels to spike in some Midwest streams during a 2013 study, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report published in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Plants remember stress to help protect themselves, Jun 01, 2016

Research from the University of Warwick in the U.K. revealed that plants have evolved ways to remember previous exposures to stress, such as high salinity conditions, which can help subsequent progenies withstand the same stress in future.
Researchers identify critical factors that determine drought vulnerability of wheat, maize
Science Daily (Rockville, Md.), May 26, 2016

Researchers from the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis identified critical information about the environmental variables and agronomic factors that determine the vulnerability of maize and wheat production to drought.
US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
The 2012 drought did not turn the U.S. into a net carbon source, as occurred during Europe’s hot summer in 2003, but the country continued to be a carbon sink. As it turns out, the warm spring prompted vegetation to begin growing earlier, thus absorbing more carbon.
Researchers Unveil New Drought-Fighting GMO For Long-Suffering Crops
Growing Alabama, Mar 30, 2016

Scientists at Purdue are focusing on a gene that causes the plant to have rapid leaf pore closure, a reduced rate of water loss due to evaporation, alleviated cell membrane damage and improved photosynthesis that results in an improved reaction to drought conditions.


San Luis Valley aquifer refills after years of drought, overuse
Santa Fe New Mexican, Jun 11, 2016
San Luis Valley in southern Colorado
A multiyear drought that began in 2002 in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado quickly drew down the region’s streams and water table, causing wells to go dry abruptly. The Rio Grande Water Conservation District and San Luis Valley water users created a subdistrict project to address the water problem of over appropriation and help the region to balance its water use. Farmers and ranchers paid $75 per acre-foot of groundwater they pumped, but also were compensated for fallowing parts of their fields, limiting water demand.
In the four years since the subdistrict project began in 2012, the aquifer is recovering. One-third less groundwater water being pumped than before the project, from more than 320,000 acre-feet prior to 2012 to about 200,000 acre-feet. Ten thousand acres that previously were used to cultivate thirsty alfalfa and potato crops were fallow. Stewards of the land continue to improve soil quality and were striving to grow more efficient crops as other ways to help the aquifer.
Central America tests drought-resistant 'miracle' beans
ReliefWeb, Dec 01, 2015
El Salvador
A hybrid light red bean created through traditional cross-breeding grows well despite little moisture and is resistant to bean golden yellow mosaic virus.
This machine can make salty water drinkable — using only the sun’s rays
The Washington Post, May 06, 2015

A group of people from Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a novel method of purifying brackish, undrinkable water via a solar-powered water desalination system. The water produced by the system is free of contaminants and is potable.
Company says evaporation suppression worked
Wichita Falls Times Record News (Texas), Jan 28, 2015
Wichita Falls, Texas
The evaporation suppression powder used on Arrowhead Lake during the 2014 summer was successful. A report by the Texas Water Development Board said the measure may have reduced normal evaporation by 15 percent.
Wichita Falls officials were evaluating the report and considered it inconclusive. The city spent about $294,000 on the project.
Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter
The Sacramento Bee (California), Nov 11, 2013
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.
Drought Headlines Archive

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