Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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 Niño still on track to deliver deluges, new report says
Chico Enterprise Record (Calif.), Nov 12, 2015
All of California will likely see average to above average precipitation this winter, putting some kind of dent in the drought.
Autumn storms make small dent in California drought
Yahoo! News, Nov 06, 2015
The slight improvement in exceptional drought in California brought the percentage of the state in the category from 46 percent to 44.84 percent. With Gigante de El Niño, the state will likely see plenty more precipitation, but it remains to be seen whether it will come as rain or snow in the Sierra.
Heavy rains this month lessen drought in Texas
El Paso Times (Texas), Oct 29, 2015
Heavy rainfall in the days following Oct. 23 brought parts of Texas out of extreme and exceptional drought. The eastern two-thirds of the state were forecast to receive more rain.
'Rapid Expansion' of Drought Seen Across Midwest
Pro Farmer, Oct 22, 2015
The dryness in the upper Midwest offered opportunities for fieldwork, but did not help winter wheat emergence. Dryness increased in areas roughly east of the Rocky Mountains to the upper Midwest and Mississippi Delta.
New forecast says El Niño could help Northern California, ease drought
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Oct 08, 2015
The El Niño forecast was revised in early October to include better chances for precipitation in northern California than previously predicted.


After promising start, cotton season ends on a low note
Midland Reporter-Telegram (Texas), Nov 08, 2015
Texas panhandle, West Texas
The hot, dry August and September weather cut into high cotton yields in the Texas panhandle and West Texas where lush spring rains promised a good crop. A disappointed Howard County farmer expected about 10,000 bales from his 6,500 acres of cotton fields, but will only get about 4,000 bales. In Midland, the farmers’ co-op cotton gin baled just 1,300 bales of cotton, considerably fewer than at this time in past years.
Adding to farmers’ problems were the weak prices for cotton since 2011, while production costs remained high.
Drought impacted soil slows Mississippi's wheat planting (Birmingham, Ala.), Nov 08, 2015

Mississippi wheat farmers have not had suitable conditions for planting wheat because exceptionally dry weather left fields too dry. Rainfall finally came, but left fields too wet. Farmers were expected to plant up to 200,000 acres of wheat, but very little was planted through October, apart from that for wildlife food plots, forage and some acres in the most northeastern counties.

California rice takes top spot in international competition
Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 02, 2015
Sacramento Valley in California
Calrose rice, grown in the Sacramento Valley, took top place as the world’s best rice variety at the seventh annual World Rice Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is the first year the California rice has been the sole winner of the award. The dry weather improved the rice’s overall texture.
Cattle rustling remains a problem for Texas ranchers
KGBT-TV CBS 4 Harlingen (Texas), Oct 28, 2015
Cattle theft remained a problem in Texas, particularly as drought has driven cattle prices up in recent years. In 2014, there were 726 cases of stolen livestock, involving 5,325 animals valued at $4.89 million.
Drought Conditions Spread Across Indiana, Wis.), Oct 27, 2015
Dry conditions in Indiana were affecting soybeans, winter wheat and pasture condition. Soybean moisture has fallen below the optimum level, increasing the likelihood of harvest loss. While winter wheat emergence has exceeded that of last year and the five-year average, dry soils were affecting crop health. Livestock producers began feeding hay and alfalfa mixtures to cattle to protect pasture health for next year.

Business & Industry

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.
California pool, hot tub filling bans have industries steaming
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), May 10, 2015
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.


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.
California ISO: Challenging 2014 Summer but Reliability Held Firm
Reuters, Oct 20, 2014
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.
Drought hinders state's emissions goals
San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 20, 2014
Drought has cut into hydropower production in California, driving energy costs higher as the state turns to other more expensive energy sources. Hydropower generation dropped from 18.2 percent in 2011 to 11.7 percent in 2012 when drought began.
Despite years of decreases in greenhouse gas emissions since 2004, California’s emissions began to rise in 2012, due to drought and the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County. Emissions data for 2013 were not yet available.


Dry conditions lead to brush fires across New Hampshire
Manchester Union Leader (N.H.), Nov 09, 2015
New Hampshire
The New Hampshire fall brush fire season has been active, with multiple-alarm fires in many towns in central, southern and eastern parts of the state. The region typically sees fires in the fall, but not as many as have broken out in recent days. The director and state forester for the Division of Forests and Lands said that little rain had fallen since the latter part of summer.
Drought, other factors contribute to larger Texas wildfires
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), Oct 28, 2015
Drought, development and changes in land use in Texas have encouraged the occurrence of larger, more threatening wildfires. The forest service responded to only one wildfire larger than 5,000 acres between 1985 and 2000, but in the last 15 years, fires of that size have occurred very frequently in some years.
Forestry firefighting crews keeping busy during drought
WLOX (Biloxi, Miss.), Oct 21, 2015
The Mississippi Forestry Commission has dealt with nearly 50 wildfires and more than 2,500 blackened acres in southeastern Mississippi in the last five days amid drought.
Mississippi now under Statewide Burn Ban
WLOX (Biloxi, Miss.), Oct 20, 2015
The Mississippi Forestry Commission urged Governor Phil Bryant to issue a statewide burn ban, due to significant drought conditions and the presence of burn bans in more than half of the state’s counties. The governor signed a proclamation calling for a statewide burn ban on Oct. 20. Since Oct. 1, the Mississippi Forestry Commission estimated it has responded to more than 430 wildfires.
Citing extreme dry conditions, Louisiana officials order statewide burn ban
The Acadiana Advocate (La.), Oct 15, 2015
A statewide burn ban took effect in Louisiana on Oct. 16 due to the prevalence of extremely dry conditions.

Plants & Wildlife

Drought drives bears into California town in search of food
Yahoo! News, Nov 09, 2015
Three Rivers, California
Hungry bears have invaded Three Rivers, on the west side of Sequoia National Park, in search of food as they prepare to hibernate for the winter. The ongoing four-year drought left the berry crop shriveled and acorns were relatively scarce, leading bears to seek out food in residential areas. Residents have gotten used to seeing bears and seem to enjoy the visitors hanging out on the golf course, near a pool, in trees and gathering acorns in the town where acorns were plentiful.
Federal government begins large Oregon wild horse roundup
The Everett Herald (Wash.), Nov 03, 2015
Southern Oregon
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management planned to collect about 1,500 wild horses during a roundup in Beatys Butte herd management area, a 624 square mile tract in southern Oregon. Officials claim that the large number of mustangs damages the environment and wildlife, an issue which is compounded by the region’s drought that continued to stress forage and water availability.
Historic Menard County tree comes down
The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.), Nov 02, 2015
Menard County, Illinois
A huge 260-year old white oak tree near Athens was a victim of the 2012 drought and was cut down on Nov. 2.
Drought-driven salmon deaths could have far-reaching impact
San Francisco Chronicle (, Oct 29, 2015
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California
Ninety-five percent of the winter-run chinook eggs, hatchlings and juvenile salmon in the Sacramento River perished this year, like in 2014, due to the warm, drought-depleted Sacramento River, announced the National Marine Fisheries Service. The fish would typically return in three years to spawn, but with two consecutive years’ worth of salmon dying, this wild run could be nearly extinct and will require careful monitoring and protection in 2016.
Monarchs get help from unlikely source: California's drought
San Francisco Chronicle (, Oct 21, 2015
Many Californians have gotten rid of their lawns and replanted with native, drought-tolerant plants. Milkweed has been among the new plants, which is the only type of plant female monarch butterflies will lay eggs on, so the move to save water has also benefited monarch butterflies. A nursery owner in San Diego sold more than 14,000 milkweed plants this season alone.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Roanoke River basin drought advisory lifted following rains
WTOP-AM 1500 Washington D.C., Nov 05, 2015
The drought watch advisory for the Roanoke River Basin was lifted after recent rainfall. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reported that rain improved stream flows and ground water levels. The advisory took effect in mid-September.
USDA expands drought aid in Louisiana, Mississippi
Hattiesburg American (Miss.), Oct 22, 2015
Mississippi, Louisiana
Ag producers in two-thirds of Louisiana’s parishes and nearly 60 percent of Mississippi’s counties became eligible for drought disaster aid.
Drought watch issued for 12 counties, 6 million people as N.J. water worries worsen
Trenton Times (N.J.), Sep 23, 2015
New Jersey
A drought watch was issued for 12 New Jersey counties by the Department of Environmental Protection after months of dry, warm weather led to low water supplies. Residents in all or parts of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties were included in the drought watch. Rainfall in parts of northern and central New Jersey was a little more than 50 percent of average over the past three months.
Scientists conduct drought study in 6 western states
The Sacramento Bee, Sep 10, 2015
Western U.S.
Scientists with U.S. Geological Survey were studying low stream flows to learn what factors might help resource managers better allocate water supplies during drought. Water flows and temperatures were measured in nearly 500 streams mostly in upper tributaries in Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington through September. One of the main goals of the study was to determine which basins were most vulnerable to a low snowpack scenario and which basins were geologically situated to mitigate a lack of snow with groundwater use.
California law sows seed for artificial lawns
The Sacramento Bee, Sep 04, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill preventing homeowners associations from prohibiting the use of synthetic grass or turf effective immediately. Assembly Bill 349 moved easily through the Legislature without any “no” votes.

Society & Public Health

Sacramento River water users sued for harm to salmon
Chico Enterprise Record (Calif.), Nov 11, 2015
Sacramento River in California
The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have sued Sacramento River water users, accusing them of misusing water that should have gone to endangered winter-run salmon.
Conservatives push for El Niño capture
The News Review (Ridgecrest, Calif.), Oct 30, 2015
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other conservatives in Congress and the state legislature were urging President Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown to take measures to capture the El Niño-related rain hoped to be coming this winter. A letter directed to Obama and Brown pushed for federal and state agencies and departments to prepare to capture, store and move the water.
Tulare County trying to find link between drought and health
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Fresno/Visalia (Calif.), Oct 20, 2015
Tulare County, California
Volunteers in Tulare County were knocking on doors in East Porterville, Cutler and Orosi and asking residents questions about health problems. The goal was better understanding of the relationship between drought and health problems and whether stress and poverty typically follow such a combination.
Report: Valley nonprofits stretched thin by epic drought
The Fresno Bee, Sep 30, 2015
San Joaquin Valley, California
A survey conducted by the Fresno Regional Foundation revealed that nonprofit organizations in the San Joaquin Valley were struggling to meet the needs of their clients and needed more funding to increase drought-related programs and build capacity. Only 11 percent of survey respondents said that their organization was well-prepared to serve their clients. Some of the most significant effects of the drought were income loss, inadequate access to food, reduced water access and stress.
Butter Up at a Record as California Drought Meets Shifting Diet
Bloomberg Business, Sep 24, 2015
Butter prices have reached a record high for three main reasons. Milk production was down in California, due to the ongoing drought. Demand is rising with baking season nearing, and attitudes have changed about butter being an acceptable part of a healthy diet, rather than low-fat spreads.

Tourism & Recreation

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.
Emergency closure of recreational fishing in most Olympic National Park rivers and stream begins Monday
Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, Wash.), Aug 07, 2015
Olympic National Park, Washington
Emergency fishing closures began in Olympic National Park on Aug. 10 because low stream flows and high water temperatures threaten the survival of Pacific salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

Water Supply & Quality

Many California lakes are shockingly low
San Francisco Chronicle (, Nov 12, 2015
Of 125 recreational lakes in California, 33 lakes held less than 25 percent of capacity, 19 of the 33 lakes held less than 10 percent of capacity and four lakes were empty.
L.A.’s water board seeks to buy key delta lands
San Francisco Chronicle (, Nov 10, 2015
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided to go ahead with plans to purchase 20,369 acres of land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Solano counties. The islands in the Delta are located in the proposed path of Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin-tunnel project to move water through the delta.
To save water, an underground movement to bank El Niño's rainfall
Los Angeles Times, Nov 09, 2015
An irrigation district in Fresno County was preparing to bank groundwater ahead of the El Niño-enhanced storms expected to be rolling through California and alleviating drought during the winter. The Semitropic Water Storage District also wants to direct some of the flows from the Kings River into historic Tulare Lake and on to groundwater banking facilities.
Northern Utah water year is off to slow start
Deseret News (Utah), Nov 06, 2015
Northern Utah
Rain in May and July boosted reservoir storage, but many reservoirs held a little more than 50 percent of capacity, with most of the state’s reservoirs designed to hold two years’ worth of water. Reservoir storage was at 37 percent in the Bear River Basin and 39 percent in the Weber Basin.
Water district says smelly water in San Jose due to drought
KRON 4 (San Francisco), Nov 01, 2015
San Jose, California
Tap water in the San Jose area has a “dirt-like” flavor and smell, acknowledged Santa Clara Valley Water District officials. Low water levels in reservoirs allow the water to heat up, promoting algae growth, all of which can be traced back to drought. The water’s aesthetics may not improve until the drought abates.


East Africa hunger to worsen as El Nino strikes: UN
Yahoo! News, Nov 12, 2015
East Africa
El Niño has caused floods, failed rains and conflict in East Africa, triggering a spike in hunger, particularly in Ethiopia. The count of food insecure people needing humanitarian aid rose from 6.7 million in May to 25.3 million.
North Korea runs short of ingredients for winter kimchi supplies
The Guardian (New York), Nov 10, 2015
North Korea
Drought and floods lowered vegetable harvests in North Korea and will leave the populace short on kimchi, which is made of cabbage, chilies, garlic, onions and salt.
Lower Water Levels Continue to Affect Europe River Cruises
Cruise Critic (Ewing, N.J.), Nov 08, 2015
European river cruise lines have canceled or adjusted trips on the Danube River due to drought and low water levels. A recent jaunt from Budapest to Amsterdam was held up at Passau because three cargo barges had run aground, blocking the river.
Italy is once again the top wine producer after bumper harvest in good year for EU industry
U.S. News & World Report, Nov 04, 2015
Wine production in Spain dropped to 40.6 hectoliters as drought struck the southern part of the country.
Drought in South Africa Affects Town's Drinking Water
The New York Times, Nov 03, 2015
South Africa
Drought has increased the salinity of fresh water sources in South Africa, stated a report from the South Coast Herald newspaper. Rivers have become saltier and reservoirs were at about one-third of capacity.


Caves In Nevada Could Yield Clues About Current Drought
KNPR-FM 88.9 Nevada Public Radio (Las Vegas), Nov 03, 2015
Nevada, New Mexico
Researchers from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas plan to study stalagmites from caves in Nevada and New Mexico to learn about drought cycles for the region.
Ancient pollen reveals droughts between Sierra Nevada glacier surges
Science Daily (Rockville, Md.), Nov 01, 2015
California's Central Valley
Pollen grains from the Pleistocene period were revealing evidence of extreme droughts in California’s Central Valley.
Hungry Cattle Help OSU Researchers Discover Drought Resistant Wheat
AgWeb (Mexico, Mo.), Oct 30, 2015
Researchers from Oklahoma State University used grazing cattle to stress wheat, revealing the heartiest varieties, which were then used in traditional crop breeding. The end product was Bentley, a drought- and temperature-tolerant wheat variety.
Digging deep to drought-proof Australian barley, Oct 28, 2015
Researchers from The University of Queensland identified a key gene in barley that enables the plant to access water stored deep in the soil during droughts.
Botanist to study responses of trees, shrubs to extreme drought, Sep 24, 2015
While trees and shrubs continue to die in California amid intense drought, scientists will study plants that do survive to determine which physiological mechanisms, such as deep roots or specialized leaf and wood types, might allow plants to survive the next drought.


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.
Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'
National Public Radio (Washington, D.C.), Oct 31, 2013
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.
Drought Headlines Archive

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