Tuesday, July 25, 2017

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

Drought returns to much of Oklahoma following June rain totals
NewsOK (Oklahoma City), Jul 07, 2017

The precipitation deficit in parts of central Oklahoma, including Oklahoma and Cleveland counties, is more than 8 inches since July 2016.

Extreme heat broils the Dakotas and Montana; flash drought takes toll on wheat crop
The Washington Post, Jul 06, 2017
Dakotas, Montana

The hot weather has not done the Northern Plains any favors, and could bake the region for weeks, further sapping soil moisture.

Alabama, Mississippi drought-free for first time since 2016
WAFF-TV NBC 48 Huntsville (Ala.), Jun 29, 2017
Alabama, Mississippi

Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Cindy helped finally pull the Alabama-Mississippi region out of drought, although some abnormal dryness remained.

Parts of the Dakotas and Montana are now in extreme drought, the only such spots in the US
WDAY (Fargo, N.D.), Jun 22, 2017
Dakotas, Montana

Drought expanded in the Dakotas and Montana, with conditions intensifying in western North Dakota and northeast Montana.

Drought may expand its grip on north-central US this summer
AccuWeather.com, Jun 19, 2017
Northern Plains

AccuWeather forecasters see the potential for drought expansion from eastern North Dakota to the southeast to northern Missouri and northwestern Illinois.


Drought concerns helping push sunflower prices higher
Minnesota Farm Guide (Mandan, N.D.), Jul 18, 2017
North Dakota

Sunflower prices rose 40 to 50 cents during the past week at North Dakota crush plants as drought threatened production.

The U.S. Drought Is Turning Wheat Into Hay
Bloomberg, Jul 18, 2017
Northern Plains

Many Northern Plains wheat growers are opting to bale the wheat as hay rather than harvest the grain because the crop is short and, in some cases, producing only small kernels.

Crop production forecast to plummet in dry North Dakota
seattlepi.com, Jul 12, 2017
North Dakota

Drought harmed North Dakota agriculture to the extent that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s forecast for the spring wheat crop is for a harvest of 196 million bushels, 27 percent less than in 2016. Oat production will likely be 30 percent lower, barley production may be down 47 percent, durum wheat down 50 percent and winter wheat down 74 percent.

Seminar planned to address drought concerns
Williston Herald (N.D.), Jul 12, 2017
Northwestern North Dakota

Much of the dryland wheat in northwestern North Dakota was short and going to seed earlier than normal. Many growers opted to cut it for hay rather than trying to get a wheat crop. In some areas, the dryland wheat did not make a stand.

South Sioux City farmers dealing with hailstorm damage and drought
KTIV-TV NBC 4 (Sioux City, Iowa), Jul 07, 2017
Northeastern Nebraska

Unirrigated corn in northeastern Nebraska was just 3 to 4 feet tall, while irrigated corn reached 8 to 9 feet tall.

Business & Industry

Nestlé Faces Backlash Over Collecting Water From Drought-Stricken Southern California
CBS Los Angeles, May 09, 2017
Southern California

Activists continued to protest Nestlé’s use of springs in southern California as drought and the company’s sourcing of water on public land continues to rile the public.  Of the company’s 40 water sources in the U.S., 11 are in California.  Nestlé captures about 30 million gallons of water annually and pays the U.S. Forest Service just $524 for the permit.

The 102 million dead trees in California's forests are turning tree cutters into millionaires
Los Angeles Times, Dec 14, 2016
The southern Sierra Nevada was home to millions of dead trees, needing to be felled and removed for public safety and to reduce the amount of combustible material in the landscape, but the task of removing so many trees was daunting and costly. The Forest Service estimated that there were more than 24 million dead trees in the Fresno and Tulare County portion of the Sierra Nevada alone. Tree cutters, however, see prosperity in the dead trees.
The owner of a tree service said that he charged $1,700 daily for his services. His outfit was one of more than two dozen cutting dead trees along California 168 east of Fresno to Huntington Lake.
Well companies flooded with calls for new wells as drought persists
New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester), Sep 25, 2016
New Hampshire
The owner of a well-drilling business in Amherst said they had a backlog of three to four weeks, with the phone ringing steadily in the last two weeks and most calls coming from Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. A well driller based in Hudson reported getting quite a few calls from the Kingston area. An Epping well driller was getting calls from Barrington, Brentwood, Durham, Epping, Madbury and Nottingham.
Warm, dry summer a blessing and curse for Maine golf industry
Bangor Daily News (Maine), Aug 29, 2016
Maine golf courses have benefited from the hot, dry summer because they have had sunny weather and almost no rain days. More irrigation than usual was needed to keep grass green, but golfers appreciate that dry fairways allow the balls to roll further. Overall, golf course operators seemed to like the dry summer and were happy about all of the golfers playing.
Summer drought taking toll on lawn care companies
RochesterFirst.com (New York), Aug 01, 2016
Rochester, New York
A Rochester lawn care business owner said he’s losing $2,500 to $3,000 weekly because grass was dormant and did not need to be mowed.


How hydroelectric power has roared back in California
San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 20, 2017
The recent years of drought caused a significant lull in hydropower production. Fifteen to 18 percent of California’s electricity generation typically comes from hydropower, but during the drought, hydropower generation dropped to less than 10 percent on average. The state turned to burning natural gas to make up the difference, driving up greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over what they would have been. Burning natural gas also cost Californians $2.4 billion more than they would have paid if hydropower production had been near normal.
Ongoing drought taking toll on Alabama Power lake levels
Alabama NewsCenter, Sep 12, 2016
Northern Alabama
The dry summer has depleted lakes used by Alabama Power to generate electricity. Water levels at Weiss, Neely Henry, and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River, Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River, and Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River were dropping and were expected to continue to drop. Alabama Power reduced water releases from its hydroelectric dams and stopped recreational releases from Jordan Dam on the Coosa River.
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.


California fires are early, unpredictable after winter rain
ABC News, Jul 12, 2017

Years of drought left California with stands of dead trees and brush, as well as stands of thick grass ready to burn, leading to an early fire season that has been very intense.

Lightning sparks western Montana blazes; fire danger raised
Missoula Missoulian (Mont.), Jul 11, 2017
Western Montana

Hundreds of lightning strikes and people have sparked many fires in western Montana, and the dry conditions allowed the fires to start more easily.  No rain has fallen in July, setting the stage for fires caused by haying equipment.  These types of fires do not normally occur until farmers are making a third cutting in August, but the dryness has increased the fire danger.

“The fire behavior that we’re seeing right now is pretty impressive for this time in July,” said Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Northwest Land Office Operation’s Manager Dan Cassidy. “These are the kinds of conditions that we normally see in August.”

Burn Ban Means Slow Fireworks Sales this Season
My ND Now (Bismarck, N.D.), Jul 03, 2017
Bismarck, North Dakota

Drought and numerous fire and fireworks bans in the Bismarck area have slashed fireworks sales.  The non-ignitable items were the biggest sellers.

Drought and burn restrictions could block fireworks next month
The Dickinson Press (N.D.), Jun 21, 2017
North Dakota

More than half of North Dakota has issued county or tribal burn restrictions, according to the state Department of Emergency Services website. While some counties still consult the fire danger rating to determine burn restrictions, others have bypassed the rating and enacted a fireworks ban anyway.

Ag commissioner: “No end in sight” for wildfires
Ocala Star-Banner (Fla.), May 08, 2017

Florida has endured more than 2,000 wildfires this year, burning more than 150,000 acres.  More than 100 blazes were active on May 8.

“Florida is in the middle of its worst wildfire season in years – with no end in sight,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in a prepared statement.

Plants & Wildlife

Trouble bruin as bear calls spiking amid dry weather
Aspen Daily News Online (Colo.), Jul 12, 2017
Near Aspen, Colorado

While chokecherries and service berries were not yet sprouting, hungry bears in the Aspen area to the upper Fryingpan River Valley were making do by raiding homes and trash cans in search of something edible, as hot, dry weather limited the bears’ food options.  One trapped yearling was found to weigh just 35 pounds, when it ought to have tipped the scales at about 100 pounds.

Drought helps North America's largest white pelican refuge
The Bismarck Tribune (N.D.), Jun 22, 2017
North Dakota

Dry conditions at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge have allowed water levels to recede, revealing more of the main nesting island, according to Neil Shook, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and refuge manager.  For years, wet weather caused the lake level to increase, submerging about half, or 12 acres, of the main island, but the recent dryness has allowed the birds more room.

California tortoises died trying to reproduce during drought
The Sacramento Bee, May 17, 2017
Southern California

Numerous female desert tortoises have died in Southern California, and it seems that the creatures died trying to reproduce amid the recent drought.  The tortoises likely used up their water and energy to lay eggs in the Joshua Tree National Park.  Fewer males have died than females.  From the state of deterioration of the carcasses and chalkiness of the bones, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the tortoises died within the last 5 to 10 years, which encompasses years of intense drought.

Damage from the 2016 drought is evident across Alabama
Huntsville Times (Ala.), May 10, 2017

Many trees in central Alabama were not showing signs of life as spring wears on, indicating that drought killed many thousands of trees. The majority of damage occurred in evergreen species, according to Dana Stone, a forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission. Pines, Leland cypress, Japanese cypress, cedars, magnolias and even oak trees were the most affected.

FWC: Drought killing thousands of fish
WFTS (Tampa bay, Fla.), Apr 26, 2017
St. Petersburg, Florida

Thousands of fish died in a St. Petersburg pond as drought caused the water to warm, rending it incapable of holding enough dissolved oxygen to support the fish.  Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation has received 50 calls on their fish kill hotline.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

USDA opens more land for emergency haying and grazing
High Plains Journal (Dodge City, Kan.), Jul 20, 2017
Northern Plains

Another 235,000 acres of sensitive wetlands and buffer strips on Conservation Reserve Program land in and around Montana and the Dakotas became available for emergency grazing and haying. Affected areas include counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. Emergency grazing ends Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying ends Aug. 31, 2017.

Gov. Bullock declares drought disaster
KFBB-TV ABC 5.1 (Great Falls, Mont.), Jul 19, 2017
Eastern Montana

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued an executive order declaring a drought disaster in 28 counties and five Indian reservations in the eastern part of the state. The declaration continues the temporary suspension of hours of service regulations and offers maximum employee assistance and cooperation to get additional economic assistance for affected counties and Indian reservations.

Drought stricken ranchers can hay conservation lands early
The Bismarck Tribune (N.D.), Jul 10, 2017
Dakotas, Montana

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave authorization for early haying of Conservation Reserve Program acres beginning on July 16 to help farmers and ranchers in the Dakotas and Montana enduring drought.  Counties experiencing drought severity of D2 or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor, as well as being within 150 miles of a county in D2, make farmers and ranchers eligible for early haying.

USDA expands emergency grazing in drought states
The Bismarck Tribune (N.D.), Jun 29, 2017
Dakotas, Montana

The USDA expanded emergency grazing on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, authorizing grazing in the Dakotas and Montana in any county whose border lies within 150 miles of a county in severe drought.

Burgum declares statewide fire, drought emergency
The Bismarck Tribune (N.D.), Jun 26, 2017
North Dakota

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced a statewide fire and drought emergency on June 26 and ordered state agencies to “maintain high levels of readiness.”  The executive order activates the State Emergency Operations Plan also authorizes the N.D. National Guard to activate if necessary.

Society & Public Health

Four water main breaks in four days
Osceola Sentinel-Tribune (Iowa), Jul 20, 2017
Osceola, Iowa

The hot, dry weather has caused soils to shift in south central Iowa, leading to four water main breaks in four days, stated Osceola Water Works Superintendent Brandon Patterson.

Ground beef prices at three-year low just in time for July 4
The Washington Post, Jul 03, 2017

Ground beef prices have fallen to a three-year low with a pound of hamburger averaging $3.56, down 68 cents from the 2015 high of $4.24.  Herd recovery after drought in 2011 and 2012 has finally brought prices down.

Another reason to curse Central Florida drought — fleas
Orlando Sentinel (Fla.), May 17, 2017

Flea problems arose in January and February, while fleas typically do not become problematic until March, said an Orlando veterinarian.  Fleas tend to thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity.

Avocados pricier, in shorter supply for Cinco de Mayo
Courier Post (Camden South Jersey), May 04, 2017

Avocado prices were high ahead of Cinco de Mayo, due to increased demand worldwide, bad weather when avocados were blooming, salty soil in California in the wake of drought and the unpredictability of the avocado trees.

Drought linked with human health risks in US analysis
MedicalXpress, Apr 04, 2017
Western U.S.
Severe drought can increase the risk of heart and lung illnesses and death for older people. Researchers reviewed health and drought data from 618 counties in the western U.S. between 2000 and 2013.

Tourism & Recreation

Drought Causing Low Participation in Ag-Related Activities
KVRR TV (Fargo, N.D.), Jul 11, 2017
Fargo, North Dakota

Fewer farmers from the western part of North Dakota made the trip to Fargo to participate in the Red River Valley Fair.  There were fewer entries in the livestock exhibits and different animal shows.

You can now use the outdoor showers at state beaches again
Los Angeles Times, Apr 19, 2017
California Coast
The California Department of Parks and Recreation ended its two-year ban on outdoor shower use at 38 state beaches. Drought and the need for water conservation prompted the ban, which was not popular with beach goers.
Salmon fishing closed this year on southern Oregon Coast
The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.), Apr 16, 2017
Southern Oregon Coast
Sport and commercial salmon fishing is prohibited along the southern Oregon coast because the Pacific Fishery and Management Council chose to protect chinook and coho salmon. The fish have faced significant challenges with drought and other factors in recent years.
Salmon fishing shut down for southern Oregon coast
Outdoor News (Plymouth, Minn.), Apr 14, 2017
Southern Oregon coast
Sport and commercial salmon fishing is prohibited along the southern Oregon coast because the Pacific Fishery and Management Council chose to protect chinook and coho salmon, given the challenges the fish have faced with drought and other factors in recent years.
Corps urges caution on Arkansas reservoir lakes
ArkansasOnline.com (Little Rock, Ark.), Feb 05, 2017
Northwestern Arkansas
Lakes in northern and western Arkansas were lower than normal, prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to warn recreationists to be careful of shallow waters and objects nearer the water’s surface. Beaver, Bull Shoals, Greers Ferry, Norfork and Table Rock lakes were 5 to 10 feet lower than normal.

Water Supply & Quality

Drought Leaves Groundwater Low Despite Recent Rains
WMFE (Orlando, Fla.), Jul 13, 2017
Central Florida

Groundwater in the St. Johns River Water Management District remained low, despite recent above-normal rainfall that lifted the region out of drought.  Water customers were urged to continue conserving water.

Stage one drought restrictions announced for San Antonio
KSAT.com (San Antonio), Jul 13, 2017
San Antonio, Texas

Stage one drought restrictions began in San Antonio on July 14 and allow outdoor watering once weekly, depending on one’s address.  The 10-day average of the Edwards Aquifer fell below 660 feet, triggering the water restrictions.

Water Shortage Threatens 3,000 People On Montana Reservation
Montana Public Radio (Missoula, Mont.), Jul 13, 2017
North central Montana

The Rocky Boy’s reservation, south of Havre, has enough water to last about seven to 10 days.  They plan to drill new wells and truck in water, if needed, to keep people supplied with water.  Their drinking water supply has been chronically low, but drought tipped the balance.

Mitchell Asking Residents For Help With Water Supply
KDLT-TV (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Jul 11, 2017
Mitchell, South Dakota

Water use has more than doubled in Mitchell, prompting a request for voluntary water conservation to keep water costs down.  The community’s use was nearing the maximum amount that they could get from BY Water in Tabor, their water source.

Salinas Valley seawater intrusion moved deeper, groundwater levels dropped during drought
Monterey County Herald (Calif.), Jul 11, 2017
Salinas Valley, California

Seawater intrusion went deeper into Salinas Valley’s underground water supply as groundwater levels dropped between 2013 and 2015 amid California’s years long drought.


Worst drought in 16 years threatens food supplies in North Korea: U.N.
Reuters, Jul 20, 2017
North Korea

North Korea needs food imports to avert hunger among children and the elderly, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, as the country faces its worst drought since 2001.

Dry weather threatens top-quality wheat in world awash with grain
Reuters, Jul 18, 2017
Canada, U.S., Australia

Hot, dry weather threatens high-protein wheat in Canada’s Alberta province, the northern U.S. and western Australia, while late-season rains may have lowered the protein level in Germany’s wheat.

Australia wheat output may miss forecast by 20 percent due to dry weather
Reuters, Jul 17, 2017

Drought may bring down Australian wheat yields more than 20 percent, in the opinion of traders and analysts.  Data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology indicates that rainfall for the east and west coast wheat growing regions has been less than 50 percent of average rainfall from April 1 through June 30.

Drought Affecting the Future Sugar Cane Harvest
Cuban News Agency (Havana), Jul 14, 2017

Sugar cane sowing in Villa Clara province of Cuba has been delayed by drought, which has affected the area since 2015.  Reservoirs are low, limiting irrigation.

One of worst droughts in decades devastates South Europe crops
Reuters, Jul 14, 2017
Southern Europe

Drought in southern Europe has jeopardized cereal production in Italy and Spain, possibly dropping it to the lowest point in 20 years.  Other regional crops, such as olives and almonds, were affected too.   Castile and Leon, the largest cereal growing region in Spain could see crop losses of 60 to 70 percent.


Sea temperature changes contributing to droughts
Science Daily , Jul 19, 2017
North America, Mediterranean

Variations in sea surface temperature influence persistent drought in North America and around the Mediterranean Sea, according to research from Exeter, Montpellier and Wageningen universities.

Vinegar: A cheap and simple way to help plants fight drought
Phys.Org, Jun 26, 2017

The external application of vinegar can enhance drought tolerance in maize, rice and wheat.

Hydrological drought amplifies wildfires in Borneo’s humid tropics
Environmental-Expert.com, May 02, 2017

The area affected by wildfires in Borneo is typically ten times the size during drought years compared to non-drought years, found researchers from the Wageningen University and Research Centre.

Under the dead sea, warnings of dire drought
Phys.org, Mar 22, 2017
Middle East
Deposits from nearly 1,000 feet below the Dead Sea indicated that the Middle East has endured episodes where precipitation dropped to one-fifth of modern day levels.
NAU study finds drought-quenching bacteria protect plants from climate stress
Northern Arizona University News (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Mar 20, 2017

Plants that received growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), a diverse group of organisms known for their root and rhizosphere colonizing ability, experienced vegetable and grain yield increases of 20 to 45 percent. Such benefits are even more pronounced during drought conditions.


California growers, researchers preparing for next drought
Capital Press - Agriculture Weekly (Salem, Ore.), May 18, 2017

Growers and researchers were working fervently to find ways to help California’s orchards, vineyards and row crops withstand the next drought with as little water as they can manage and yet thrive.  Subsurface drip irrigation, minimizing soil disturbance, leaving crop residue, diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops are some of the strategies for improving moisture retention and drought tolerance.

Will replacing thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants make L.A. hotter?
Los Angeles Times, Aug 02, 2016
If every lawn in Los Angeles were replaced with drought-tolerant vegetation, researchers from the University of Southern California found that the city’s overall temperature in July would increase up to 3.4 degrees during the day and decrease by about 5.4 degrees cooler during the night. The lower soil moisture changes the thermal properties of the soil.
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.
Drought Headlines Archive

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