Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
Alabama drought lingers but conditions improving
AL.com (Birmingham, Ala.), Mar 16, 2017
Alabama's drought status continued to improve, and just 45.38 percent of the state remained in drought. Alabama Power announced that it was increasing water levels of Harris, Martin, Logan Martin and Weiss lakes, due to drought, "to improve the odds that Alabama Power reservoirs on the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers can reach normal summer levels."
'Phenomenal' California snowpack nears record depths
San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), Mar 01, 2017
The Sierra Nevada snowpack was near record levels when snow surveyors measured the snow’s water content to be 185 percent of normal on March 1. Near Phillips Station, the snow depth was 10 feet.
SD ranchers stretch feed to finish out winter
The Dickinson Press (S.D.), Feb 27, 2017
Ranchers in western and north central South Dakota were short on hay and looking for a way to stretch remaining supplies. For some producers in those regions of South Dakota, hay production was poor last year.
Drought Impacting Cattlemen in Southeast and Plains
Drovers Cattle Network, Feb 10, 2017
Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee
Livestock producers in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee all lament the dry weather and pasture conditions are not what they could be. A producer from Stillwater, Okla. noted that the dryness of the past two months might leave too little moisture for spring planting. Producers in Mississippi do not have enough forage and, in some cases, water, and have had to wean calves early or sell out for lack of options. Some Tennessee producers have sold calves earlier than normal or culled more heavily in the fall to cope with the poor fall grazing and hay production.
Texas Crop and Weather Report — Feb. 7
Bryan-College Station Eagle (Texas), Feb 07, 2017
The unusually warm, dry winter has Texas farmers in parts of the state looking forward to rain to improve pastures and crops. In East Texas, winter pasture was growing slowly, due to the lack of rain. In Far West Texas, not much green forage could be found. In South Texas, warm-season grasses did not green up well, due to the lack of moisture. Coastal Bermuda grass stayed dormant and yellow. The absence of moisture led producers to irrigate wheat, oats, cabbage, spinach, onions, carrots and broccoli.
Late-Season Drought Causes New Year Issues for Producers
GrowingAlabama.com, Jan 27, 2017
The drought led many Alabama farmers to postpone or even skip the planting of winter grazing. Some winter forage was growing well, but other fields were complete failures. Alabama farmers have purchased hay from all over the Southeast to feed livestock.
Business & Industry
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
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.
Barge traffic makes a resurgence on the Missouri River
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 30, 2016
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.
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
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.
U.S. sees furious start to the wildfire season
USA Today, Mar 20, 2017
More than 2 million acres have burned in the U.S. since the start of 2017, with many of those wildfires consuming record numbers of acres in Oklahoma and Kansas. Many of the fires occurred in drought-affected parts of the U.S.
Northwest Oklahoma wildfires reported 80 percent contained
NewsOK (Oklahoma City), Mar 15, 2017
Since March 6, wildfires driven by strong winds burned more than 782,000 acres in Oklahoma. In the northwest, fires that killed thousands of head of livestock and destroyed at least eight homes were 80 percent contained, according to the Oklahoma Forestry Services. The Starbuck fire, which crossed the state line into Kansas, consumed 34 homes and more than 100 outbuildings. Nineteen Oklahoma counties had bans on outdoor burning.
Q&A: A look at questions about current US wildfires
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), Mar 08, 2017
Hundreds of square miles burned and six lives were lost in the Southern Plains as gusty winds drove flames across the dry landscape. In southern Kansas, an estimated 861 square miles burned in Clark and Comanche counties, setting a new record for the largest single fire in Kansas’ recorded history.
Since March 4, grass fires consumed more than 1,000 square miles and at least 70 structures in 23 Kansas counties. Three blazes in the Texas Panhandle charred nearly 750 square miles, while more than 540 square miles burned in Oklahoma. Wildfire activity in northeastern Colorado also blackened dozens of square miles.
Governor Fallin issues burn ban for 53 Oklahoma counties
KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City), Feb 10, 2017
Gov. May Fallin announced a two-week burn ban for the eastern two-thirds of Oklahoma due to extreme weather conditions and increasing fire danger. The newly issued ban supersedes all county bans and will expire on Feb. 24. Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, recommended the ban due to current fire activity, wildland fuel conditions and the expectation of continued drought.
This is how the devastating Gatlinburg wildfire erupted overnight
The Washington Post, Nov 29, 2016
About 14,000 people in the Gatlinburg area fled just ahead of the wind-whipped flames, which consumed hundreds of structures. The dry fall left the Southeast parched and ready to burn, as evidenced by wildfires burning in the Great Smoky Mountains in past months. A storm system moving through the region on the evening of Nov. 28 brought strong winds, which brought down trees and power lines and sparked new fires.
Plants & Wildlife
Drought, then winter conditions could reduce number of buck deer hunting permits in Utah
The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), Mar 22, 2017
Some parts of Utah have fewer young bucks after the harsh 2014-15 winter, drought in 2016 and another difficult winter. The Division of Wildlife Resources recommended that the Utah Wildlife Board issue fewer buck deer hunting permits to allow the population to recover. The wildlife board will decide permit numbers for big game hunts on April 27.
Experts worried about pine beetle outbreak in Alabama
Times Daily (Florence, Ala.), Mar 14, 2017
Alabama forests were experiencing more Southern pine beetle activity than normal, although such outbreaks do not typically occur until late spring or early summer. Many of the state’s trees were dead or dying after intense drought during the 2016 summer, leaving trees very stressed and vulnerable to insect attack.
Apart from drought, the number of Southern pine beetle outbreaks has been climbing steadily for the past four years, but with drought stress and damage, factors were converging to create immense beetle outbreaks.
Trout stocking comes two weeks early because of drought, warm winter temps
Saporta Report (Atlanta, Ga.), Mar 10, 2017
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources began stocking trout two weeks earlier than usual because the warm winter weather hastened fish growth while dry conditions reduced water flow through hatcheries. The stocked streams include Cooper Creek, in Union County; Tallulah River, in Rabun County; Dicks Creek, in Lumpkin County; Holly Creek in Murray County; and Johns Creek, in Floyd County.
California faces another bleak salmon-fishing season, a holdover from the drought
The Sacramento Bee, Mar 02, 2017
The 2017 fishing season does not look to be good for California salmon anglers because estimated numbers of adult fall-run Chinook salmon off the coast were very low. These fish hatched two to four years ago in California’s drought-stricken Sacramento and Central Valley rivers when river and ocean conditions were harsh. Roughly 54,200 adult fish from the Klamath River are swimming off the Pacific Coast, some of the lowest numbers on record and just a fraction of the count in 2016 when 142,000 fish returned. For adult fish reared in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, biologists think there are 230,700 salmon in the Pacific Ocean, or 70,000 fewer than the previous year.
Effects of Drought Continue to Plague Trees across State
WTVY.com (Dothan, Ala.), Feb 13, 2017
Alabama trees continued to die, despite rainfall in December and January, said the Alabama Forestry Commission. The reason for the trees deaths was not clear, but the losses may be significant. The AFC began receiving calls about pine trees of all ages and sizes dying, ranging from seedlings to mature trees. Needles frequently turn brown, as do the pitch tubes, indicating bark beetle infestation. Inspections of the dying trees revealed a variety of pests, including Southern pine beetle, Ips engraver beetle, and black turpentine beetle, or a combination of all three.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
DEQ issues drought watch advisory
WCAV-TV Charlottesville Newsplex (Va.), Mar 22, 2017
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued a drought watch advisory for localities and public water suppliers in Greene, Louisa, Madison and Orange counties and other areas. The advisory was meant to alert the public that drought conditions were developing and to prepare for such an event. Voluntary water conservation was encouraged.
Improvement in drought conditions continues
WWLP-TV (Springfield, Mass.), Mar 10, 2017
Massachusetts has seen improvements in its drought status, leading the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs to adjust the drought status for Berkshire County from drought watch to advisory. Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties went from a drought warning to a watch.
Drought warning issued across Central Maryland
The Baltimore Sun, Mar 09, 2017
The Maryland Department of the Environment issued a drought warning for central Maryland, encompassing Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard and Montgomery counties. MDE will keep a closer eye on water supply conditions for well users. The Eastern Shore, including Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, was in a drought watch.
Higher fire risk in Ocean, western Monmouth counties
Asbury Park Press (N.J.), Mar 09, 2017
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought warning for Monmouth and Ocean counties and all counties to the north, including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Warren and Union. A drought watch was in effect for Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties.
Georgia eases drought restrictions, but not in Atlanta area
WGCL-TV Atlanta, Mar 03, 2017
Winter rains led the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to ease drought-related water limits and restrictions in 86 counties. Twelve counties, including those in the Atlanta area, still remained in Level 2 drought response.
Society & Public Health
NASA Data Show California’s San Joaquin Valley Still Sinking
YubaNet.com (Nevada City, Calif.), Feb 28, 2017
San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley, California
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory identified two major bowls of subsidence in California related to additional groundwater pumping associated with recent years of drought. They were located near Chowchilla, south of Merced, and Corcoran, north of Bakersfield, and continued to sink nearly 2 feet per year between May 2015 and Sept. 2016. Other parts of the San Joaquin Valley were sinking, as well, such as near Tranquility, where sinking increased in the past year and occurred at a rate of up to 20 inches per year.
Some subsidence occurred in the Sacramento Valley near Davis and Arbuckle. A new patch of subsidence was discovered in Sierra Valley, north of Lake Tahoe.
Drought May Beckon Bigger West Nile Outbreaks
Health Day (Norwalk, Conn.), Feb 08, 2017
A review of 15 years’ worth of data on West Nile virus infections found that epidemics were larger during drought years, according to research from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“Drought was the dominant weather variable correlated with the size of the West Nile virus epidemics,” stated study author Sara Paull, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz. What was unclear was how drought might be worsening the epidemics.
NASA study says Valley still sinking
KFRE & KMPH-TV Fox 26 & CW 59 (Fresno, Calif.), Feb 08, 2017
San Joaquin Valley, California
New NASA radar satellite maps prepared for the California Department of Water Resources indicate that land in the San Joaquin Valley continued to sink rapidly, endangering state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures.
“The rates of San Joaquin Valley subsidence documented since 2014 by NASA are troubling and unsustainable,” stated DWR Director William Croyle. “Subsidence has long plagued certain regions of California. But the current rates jeopardize infrastructure serving millions of people. Groundwater pumping now puts at risk the very system that brings water to the San Joaquin Valley. The situation is untenable.”
With no assistance in sight, engineer requesting bids for sealing machine
TimesDaily.com (Florence, Ala.), Jan 24, 2017
Colbert County, Alabama
As drought and damage to Colbert County roads continued, the county engineer was getting estimates for a crack sealing machine to repair the cracked roads. The cracking was occurring because clay soil beneath the pavement was shrinking and sifting as it dried. Some of the gaping cracks spanned an inch in width and allowed water to seep into the road’s subgrade. Nearby counties were also experiencing similar problems with road damage.
Recent rainfall has not eased the extent of damage to the roads, and instead, more template deformation was occurring, resulting in more dips in roadways.
Sorry, coffee fiends, prepare to pay more for your java
CBS News, Jan 12, 2017
The J.M. Smucker Co. will be raising prices on its Folger’s and Dunkin’ Donut coffee products in the U.S. because drought has hurt coffee bean production in Brazil and Vietnam Excessive rains and flooding in the last months of 2016 also damaged Vietnam’s crop.
Tourism & Recreation
Corps urges caution on Arkansas reservoir lakes
ArkansasOnline.com (Little Rock, Ark.), Feb 05, 2017
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.
Several boat ramps at The Rez closing due to drought conditions
WJTV-TV CBS 12 (Jackson, Miss.), Nov 10, 2016
Barnett Reservoir, Jackson, Mississippi
Several boat ramps at Barnett Reservoir were closed as drought lowered the water level. Some of the ramp closures included Fannin Landing in Rankin County, Brown’s Landing in Madison County and five subdivision ramps.
Drought edges in on outdoor businesses
BlueRidgeNow (Hendersonville, N.C.), Nov 03, 2016
Western North Carolina
Outfitters in western North Carolina have seen slightly fewer customers and have taken fewer people on guided and rafting trips. Fishing was extremely difficult with water levels being so low, said a store manager in Asheville.
Lake Lanier levels drop, other concerns rise
Gainesville Times (Ga.), Oct 23, 2016
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Lake Lanier Association members were warned to move their docks because the level of the lake was down eight feet. Twenty-two boat ramps on the lake were closed, due to low water.
Snowmobile festival trucks in water because of drought
WMUR-TV (Manchester, N.H.), Oct 05, 2016
Fremont, New Hampshire
Water was trucked to Fremont to prepare for Race to Winter, an annual kickoff to winter event, featuring numerous snowmobile races. The water was used to refill three dry swales that normally were replenished by brooks, but, due to drought, were rather dry. The water in the swales cools the snowmobiles' suspension, keeping them from overheating and allowing the snowmobiles to perform stunts.
Water Supply & Quality
West side farmers to get a 65 percent water allocation from Central Valley Project
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Mar 22, 2017
Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta learned that they will receive 65 percent of full allocations from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in spite of the heavy rainfall the state has received, leading to flooding, full reservoirs and deep snowpack. Farmers were sorely disappointed and angry to be getting less than full deliveries this year.
Bureau officials consider many factors when determining water deliveries, including reservoir storage levels, hydrological conditions and requirements to protect endangered species.
The beer is made from sewer water, but it doesn’t taste like what you find in sewers
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Mar 20, 2017
Escondido in San Diego County, California
Beer brewers in Escondido noted the challenge that different water sources brought to the process of beer making during years of drought. Water from the Colorado River and other water sources all require unique processing methods to make it suitable for brewing, but using treated wastewater takes away the variability and requires the addition of a few salts to make it perfect for brewing. Taste testers say the beer tastes very good.
Water shortage warning issued by St. Johns district
WJXT News4Jax (Jacksonville, Fla.), Mar 15, 2017
A water shortage warning was in effect for the St. Johns River Water Management District because rainfall has been below normal for parts of northeast and central Florida. Residents in parts of Nassau, Flagler, Baker, Clay, Putnam, Marion and Lake counties were urged to voluntarily reduce water use, particularly outdoor irrigation.
Water limits lifted on Catalina Island after recent rains
The Sacramento Bee, Mar 09, 2017
Heavy rainfall on Santa Catalina Island allowed Southern California Edison to ease water restrictions for residents of Avalon, who have mandatorily conserved water since August 2014. Water restrictions just returned to stage 1 mandatory water conservation. In September 2016, SCE enacted stage 3 mandatory water rationing, requiring conservation of 50 percent for some customers.
Agencies issue low water, water shortage alerts
Ocala Star-Banner (Fla.), Feb 28, 2017
The Southwest Florida Water Management District declared a Phase I Water Shortage beginning March 10 for parts of Lake, Marion and Sumter counties. Groundwater levels in Lake County were extremely abnormal and were severely abnormal in Marion and Sumter counties.
Time Short to Avert Starvation in Yemen and Somalia, Red Cross Says
The New York Times, Mar 22, 2017
The people of Yemen and Somalia are three to four months away from starvation as conflict and drought damage crops and prevent deliveries of food and medical supplies. The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for $300 million to fund relief operations.
With 100 Days of Water Left, Cape Town Risks Running Dry (1)
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Mar 17, 2017
Cape Town, South Africa
The Cape Town area has experienced its driest two years on record, leaving about 100 days’ worth of water remaining in its reservoirs. The rainy season begins in May or June, but the city of 3.7 million may run out before then.
Tanzania demarcates national parks to avert human-wildlife clashes
Reuters, Mar 14, 2017
Slabs of concrete are being used to better mark boundaries of Tanzania’s national parks, game and forest reserves as nomadic pastoralists seek water and fresh pasture for their livestock. They often illegally encroach into the reserves as drought makes finding water holes and suitable pasture a challenge.
Under the dead sea, warnings of dire drought
Phys.org, Mar 22, 2017
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.
Anthropogenic warming impacts on California snowpack during drought
American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters, Mar 15, 2017
Anthropogenic warming reduced average snowpack levels by 25 percent between 2011 and 2015, found researchers from the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California.
Drought Headlines Archive
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.
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.