Friday, May 06, 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

El Nino weakens, here comes La Nina, meteorologists say
Associated Press, Apr 14, 2016
California, Southwestern U.S.
There is a 70 percent chance that, after El Niño dissipates, a La Nina will develop in the fall, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. Prediction center deputy director Mike Halpert said that it will likely mean dry weather for the U.S. Southwest and parts of California.
Drought Conditions Expand in the Plains
BigCountryHomepage.com (Abilene, Texas), Mar 31, 2016
Southern Great Plains

Drought has expanded in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the past week.

Drought Conditions Improve in Northern, Central California
KNBC-TV NBC 4 Los Angeles, Mar 17, 2016
California
Recent storms improved the drought in California, filling reservoirs and deepening snowpack in the mountains. About 93 of the state remained in moderate or worse drought, in comparison with 97 percent one week ago.
Why El Nino is ‘out of time’ to save Southern California from drought
Long Beach Press Telegram (Calif.), Mar 14, 2016
California
Southern California has not benefited from the El Niño precipitation as the northern part of the state has, leaving Los Angeles with half of its normal rainfall. While one meteorologist says that Southern California’s rainfall tapers off dramatically after April 1, another says don’t panic until April is over—there are still another six weeks for rain to fall.
Miracle March, round two: Pineapple express targets California with more rain and snow
The Washington Post, Mar 09, 2016
California
In the past week, northern and central parts of California received two to three times as much rain as typically falls up to this point in the month. Up to five feet of snow fell in the Sierra Nevada. A second wave of Miracle March storms will move through starting on March 10.

Agriculture

Drought hits honey production hard; 34% drop
Daily Democrat (Woodland, Calif.), Apr 14, 2016
California
California honey production was down 34 percent in 2015 to 8.3 million pounds, due to drought and poor forage for the bees. The value of the California honey was an estimated $16.8 million, down $8.9 million from 2014.
Drought Fueling Concerns for Wheat Crop Potential
ProFarmer (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Apr 05, 2016
Great Plains
Developing drought in southern Kansas and Oklahoma, surrounded by a broad swath of abnormal dryness, could limit winter wheat crop production.
Much of Kansas is dry or in drought
Hays Daily News (Kansas), Mar 31, 2016
Kansas
Wheat in southwestern Kansas was showing drought stress, according to a meteorologist based in Dodge City.
Will the spring run dry in Oklahoma?
NewsOK.com (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Mar 20, 2016
Roger Mills County, Oklahoma
Wheat in Roger Mills County was slightly discolored from a lack of soil moisture, according to the county's cooperative extension agent. The wheat was starting to come out of dormancy, but little rain has fallen in months to provide topsoil moisture.
Cattle Producers Rebuild Herds
AgWeb (Mexico, Mo.), Mar 10, 2016
U.S.
The U.S. cattle inventory rose to 92 million head on Jan. 1, an increase of 3.5 million cattle in two years, indicating aggressive expansion as the return of moisture allows ranchers to rebuild herds rapidly after years of drought forced them to cull herds. The beef herd grew by 3.4 percent to 30.3 million head.

Business & Industry

California craft beer brewers balance drafts and drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), Oct 11, 2015
California
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
California
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
California
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.
California pool, hot tub filling bans have industries steaming
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), May 10, 2015
California
Bay Area pool builders and hot tub retailers were struggling to keep customers from cancelling construction contracts as water restrictions and intense drought deter people from using water. Contractors have also had to find new sources of water to fill the pools, given that water restrictions prohibit the use of potable water for pool and hot tub filling.

Energy

Group Claims the Drought is Driving Up California Electric Rates
Power Talk 1360 (Modesto, Calif.), Feb 10, 2016
California
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
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
California
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.
California ISO: Challenging 2014 Summer but Reliability Held Firm
Reuters, Oct 20, 2014
California
Drought curbed California hydropower production this summer by 1,628 megawatts.
Drought Shutters Hydro Power Generation
KOLO-TV (Reno, Nev.), Jul 30, 2014
Western Nevada
Three hydropower plants belonging to the Truckee Meadows Power Authority were shutting down because there was not enough water to keep the plants operating. The plants will probably be able to generate hydropower again in January or February.

Fire

California to remove dying pines, hoping to prevent fires
The Fresno Bee, Apr 25, 2016
California
As drought and Western bark beetles kill many of California’s ponderosa pines, several organizations were taking steps to remove the dead trees to reduce the amount of fuel available for wildfires. Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district includes parts of Madera and Fresno counties which have been very hard-hit by ponderosa deaths, said he was attempting to shift $200 million from the U.S. Department of Interior land acquisition programs into tree removal. Caltrans and the state’s two largest electric companies were removing dead and dying trees. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection issued several fire-prevention grants.
State faces emergency over wildfire risk
Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.), Apr 22, 2016
Wisconsin
Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency due to elevated wildfire conditions in Wisconsin. All state agencies were asked to help as they were able with wildfire response and recovery efforts. The executive order permits Wisconsin National Guard leaders to activate units as needed to help.
Wildfire risk high due to lack of rainfall, NJ Forest Fire Service says
Shore News Today (Marmora, N.J.), Apr 21, 2016
New Jersey
The New Jersey Forest Fire Service says the fire danger is high in parts of the state during the spring fire season and urges the public to be cautious with fires.
State officials discuss increased potential for wildfires
KPHO-TV CBS 5 (Phoenix), Apr 13, 2016
Arizona
The fire danger is high in Arizona, and could become extremely high if the next few months are hot and dry. Nearly 300 fires have already burned in 2016 and charred more than 21,000 acres, compared to about half the number of wildfires by this time in 2015.
Fire season in New Mexico off to early start
ABQJournal (Albuquerque, N.M.), Apr 02, 2016
New Mexico
New Mexico’s fire season has taken off early with more than 130 wildfires and more than 45,000 acres burned by April 2, which was a big increase over the 2015 fire season. Moisture was more plentiful in 2015, supporting the growth of grasses that have since dried out and become fuel for 2016’s wildfires. New Mexico has received little precipitation since the middle of January.

Plants & Wildlife

US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
U.S.
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.
Troubled waters: California salmon season facing big restrictions
San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 15, 2016
California, northern Oregon, Washington
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is aiming to protect chinook salmon by cutting the number of locations and times that commercial salmon fishers can fish. The council will look over three proposals and make a final decision about closures in April before the salmon season opens on May 1. Regulations on salmon fishing in Oregon and Washington state could be much more stringent than in California because one proposal called for the complete closure of the commercial salmon season in Washington and northern Oregon.
CDFW Monitors Effect of Severe Drought on Wildlife
Imperial Valley News (Calif.), Mar 10, 2016
California
The greatest concentrations of drought-affected animals are found in Southern California coastal, mountain and valley regions, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Mojave Desert, Central Valley and the southern Cascade mountain range. Numerous amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal populations that rely on freshwater marsh, streamside habitat and wet meadows are struggling to survive amid the years-long drought.
Delta smelt count hits record low
Contra Costa Times (Calif.), Mar 08, 2016
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California

Only six Delta smelt were netted during the February trawl survey, the fewest fish ever recorded. In February 2015, 68 smelt were caught; in Feb. 2014, 55 smelt were netted; and in Feb. 2005, 211 smelt were caught. Some biologists fear that the Delta smelt cannot recover and could become extinct. State fish and wildlife officials have higher hopes for smelt survival because the population rebounds when wetter weather returns.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

L.A.'s water wasters will soon face heavier fines and audits
Los Angeles Times, Apr 27, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Residents of Los Angeles will be facing the possibility of higher fines and water audits if they use excessive amounts of water after Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a new water conservation plan, which will take effect on May 2. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will be able to fine customers from $1,000 to $40,000 per month for what it considers “unreasonable use” of water while L.A. is in an elevated phase of its emergency drought plan.
Valley communities get lower state water conservation goals
The Fresno Bee, Apr 07, 2016
California
The State Water Resources Control Board announced new water conservation goals for water suppliers seeking a reprieve from the previous high targets. The water board took into consideration population growth, climate and development of drought-resistant supplies, such as recharge from water recycling plants or desalination, in calculating the new conservation goals.
Obama seeks more coordination on dealing with drought
Associated Press, Mar 21, 2016
U.S.
President Obama issued a presidential memorandum and separate action plan on March 21, directing the federal government to devise a more proactive, long-term approach to dealing with drought. Some of the goals the president set forth are to increase sharing of information about drought risks with state, regional, tribal and local authorities and to improve coordination of federal drought-related activities.
Recent storms put California drought emergency in question
Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Mar 15, 2016
California
Abundant precipitation in Northern California and rapidly filling reservoirs have state regulators saying that they’ll review the strict water conservation orders with the possibility of easing or ending the restrictions.
State lifts drought watch for 12 counties after soggy, snowy winter
Newark Star-Ledger/NJ.com, Mar 01, 2016
New Jersey
Snow and rain during the winter alleviated the low reservoir, groundwater and streamflow levels that prompted state officials to declare a drought watch for 12 New Jersey counties. Water conservation was still recommended.

Society & Public Health

Delta battle over water and fish lands in court
San Jose Mercury News (California), Apr 26, 2016
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
Three conservation groups brought a lawsuit on April 22 against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect Delta fish and the environment during the drought when it eased water-quality standards to allow water to continue flowing to California’s cities and farms. The three groups, the National Resources Defense Council, the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife, claim that a series of 20 decisions made by the State Water Resources Control Board has hurt wild fish, including the endangered Delta smelt and Sacramento winter-run salmon.
What drought? East Bay gated community orders homeowners to green up
East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Apr 19, 2016
Blackhawk, California
A letter sent to 2,027 Blackhawk homes in March notified homeowners that brown and dead lawns must be improved because the unsightly landscaping is a violation of the association’s CC&Rs. Beginning on June 1, the association will take aggressive enforcement measures, including fines, filing lawsuits and taking further steps to ensure compliance.
Drought poll: Most Californians see serious water shortage despite rains
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Apr 15, 2016
California
Sixty-two percent of California survey participants felt that the state faces an extremely serious water shortage and intend to continue conserving water, found the Field Research Corporation when it surveyed 800 registered California voters. Interestingly enough, 68 percent of Northern Californians thought the drought was extremely serious, while just 60 percent of Southern Californians felt that way, even though Northern California received more precipitation in recent months than SoCal.
House Republicans reopen the bidding on California water bill
The Sacramento Bee, Apr 12, 2016
California
House Republicans, eager to store more California water for agricultural use, have included a provision in a must-pass Fiscal 2017 energy and water appropriations bill. The provision would block funding for the San Joaquin River restoration program and mandated pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The package was expected to pass the Republican-controlled House, as previous California-related bills have done.
Experts Launch Project To Assess Drought Effects On Ecosystems And How Communities Can Adapt
WaterOnline.com (Erie, Pa.), Mar 22, 2016
U.S.
The Ecological Drought Working Group, supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society, will study the ecological impacts of drought on ecosystems, wildlife, people and their livelihoods and propose ecological and economical mitigation measures.

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
California
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
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
California
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

Big CAP cuts coming as 3-state water agreement nears
Tucson.com (Arizona), Apr 24, 2016
Arizona, California and Nevada
Water officials representing Arizona, California and Nevada were reaching consensus on an agreement triggering cuts in Colorado River water deliveries to Southern and Central Arizona to avoid much larger water cuts down the road. The agreement and cuts in water deliveries are needed because the level of Lake Mead, which stores water for the three states, has been dropping for 16 years.
Some key outcomes of the pending agreement could include the $3.5 billion Central Arizona Project losing nearly 15 percent of its water supply as soon as 2017. California would see smaller cuts in Colorado River deliveries when Lake Mead falls another 30 feet below its present level. Arizona water officials plan to share CAP cuts to all sectors of the state’s economy that receive CAP water. Nevada would experience smaller cuts to its water deliveries because it gets less water than the other two states. Terms of the agreement were still under negotiation.
Snowpack is melting fast, despite April storms
High Country News (Paonia, Colo.), Apr 24, 2016
Western U.S.
Much of the West had snowpacks that were near normal in early April, but warm temperatures brought rapid melting, the likes of which climatologists have not seen in nearly forty years.
State, federal water sellers increase allocations
Central Valley Business Times (Stockton, Calif.), Apr 21, 2016
California
The California Department of Water Resources announced that it will deliver 60 percent of water allotments for agricultural and municipal use since March storms brought more rain to refill reservoirs, particularly in the northern part of the state.
The Central Valley Project, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will provide 50 percent of full allocations for Friant Division contractors of Class 1 water supply.
California rethinks approach to conserving water in drought
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Apr 20, 2016
California
California water providers were pushing for more control over conservation in their districts rather than having the state dictate conservation goals. Environmentalists argued for the continuation of conservation, but at a relaxed rate. The water board will likely decide on future conservation measures in May.
Valley communities get lower state water conservation goals
The Fresno Bee, Apr 07, 2016
California
The State Water Resources Control Board announced new water conservation goals for water suppliers seeking a reprieve from the previous high targets. The water board took into consideration population growth, climate and development of drought-resistant supplies, such as recharge from water recycling plants or desalination, in calculating the new conservation goals.

International

Parts of India ban daytime cooking as hundreds die of heat
Associated Press, Apr 29, 2016
India
More than 300 Indians died during April amid an intense heat wave, and 79 other people died in accidental fires, prompting officials to enact a daytime cooking ban. As many as 330 million people do not have enough water to meet their daily needs, given the ongoing drought, but monsoon rains ought to begin in June.
Urgent action needed to help Ethiopia’s farmers produce food in main cropping season
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Apr 29, 2016
Ethiopia
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is urgently seeking $10 million to help Ethiopian farmers acquire seeds ahead of the main cropping season that starts in six weeks. The region has endured successive crop failures as farmers planted and replanted, but got no harvest. Some had to eat their seeds to survive, leaving no seeds to plant to grow food this year.
Venezuela Orders Five-Day Weekends in Bid to Save Power Grid
Bloomberg, Apr 27, 2016
Venezuela
Venezuelan state employees will work only two days per week during the next two weeks in an attempt to conserve electricity as the country endured a drought that was quickly drying up the reservoir behind Guri Dam. The water level at Guri was 1.67 meters above the point at which power production must cease.
UN and partners call for action and support to help 60 million people affected by strong El Niño
Bloomberg, Apr 26, 2016

The El Niño sparked weather extremes affecting 60 million people around the globe, and the international community must be prepared to address urgent humanitarian needs and support increasing country’s resilience to future disasters, according to Stephen O’Brien, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Drought impacts were expected to peak later in 2016 or early in 2017. Far more help and funds were needed than has been offered.
Alberta farmers pray for rain as dry conditions stoke drought fears
Calgary Sun (Alberta), Apr 23, 2016
Canada
Surface water is almost non-existent and dwindling in Alberta, while grass and hay crops desperately need moisture. 2016 is starting to look an awful lot like 2015 when hot, dry weather led the government to declare an agricultural disaster. Crop yields were below average, and ranchers sold cattle to avoid large feed bills. There is still hope for crops this year if decent rain falls in May.

Research

US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
U.S.
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.
NASA Finds Drought in Eastern Mediterranean Worst of Past 900 Years
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mar 01, 2016
Eastern Mediterranean
Using tree rings to determine the drought history of the eastern Mediterranean Levant region, encompassing Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey,
scientists found that the present drought beginning in 1998 has probably been the most severe drought in more than 900 years.
All US Forests Threatened, Study Finds, Thanks to Drought
NewsMax, Feb 23, 2016
U.S.
Forests in the western U.S. have suffered damage from wildfires, due to drought and an increase in temperatures, according to research from Duke University.
Southwest sliding into a new normal: drier conditions
National Science Foundation, Feb 04, 2016
Southwestern U.S.
The climate of the Southwest was turning drier as the region experiences fewer weather patterns that bring precipitation, just like global models predicted, says Andreas Prein, a researcher from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

Mitigation

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
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.
Drought Headlines Archive

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