Sunday, November 23, 2014

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

Committee says all of SC in early drought
The Charlotte Observer (N.C.), Nov 21, 2014
South Carolina
The South Carolina Drought Response Committee met and voted to recognize the entire state as being in an incipient drought. Rain has been scarce this fall, and lake levels were declining.
Slight Drought Expands in Upper Midwest
Farm Progress (St. Charles, Ill.), Nov 06, 2014

Drought expanded in parts of the Southeast and South and improved in the Texas Panhandle, central and eastern Oklahoma and areas along the West Coast.
Drought Monitor: Midwest Light on Rain while West Coast Sees Some Drought Relief
Farm Progress (St. Charles, Ill.), Oct 30, 2014
Abnormal dryness expanded in South Dakota, Minnesota, the Southern Great Plains, the Southeast and Louisiana. Drought eased in parts of Oregon and Montana.
Lake Tahoe Reaches Natural Rim
KOLO-TV (Reno, Nevada), Oct 15, 2014
Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe has fallen to the point that it no longer feeds the Truckee River. The lake has contributed little to the river in recent months.
Another Dust Bowl? California Drought Resembles Worst in Millennium
LiveScience (Los Angeles), Oct 15, 2014
Researchers from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found that 1934 was far and away the worst drought in North America between 1000 and 2005. A high pressure ridge off the West Coast was present in 1934 and also during the current drought.


Turkey Production Down, Wholesale Prices Up
ABC News, Nov 15, 2014
Turkey production in the U.S. was the lowest in nearly 30 years, and wholesale prices are at record levels, but likely will not affect turkey prices too much in the grocery store.
Orange growers assess drought impact on crop
Ag Alert (Sacramento, Calif.), Nov 12, 2014
California oranges were unevenly sized, due to drought and insufficient water. Survey data showed that fruit had an average circumference of 2.205 inches, compared to the five-year average of 2.256 inches. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s initial 2014-15 navel orange crop forecast in September estimated a harvest of about 78 million cartons, slightly lower than the 2013-14 season of 81 million cartons.
There was still time for rain to increase the fruit size, said a member of the California Farm Bureau Federation citrus advisory committee.
Kiss Your Guacamole Good-Bye: Drought-Stricken California Farmers Stop Growing Avocados
Yahoo! News, Nov 03, 2014
Short water supplies in California, rising fertilizer costs, and level wholesale prices, due to cheap imports from Peru, Chile and Mexico, have left some California avocado growers leaving the business.
Tomato Demand Spurs Record California Crop Amid Drought
Bloomberg, Nov 02, 2014

Tomato prices were high enough that California tomato growers put their money and their water into tomatoes and produced a record crop of about 14 million tons of processing tomatoes.
Vegetable supplies expected to be tight through Thanksgiving
The Produce News (Oradell, N.J.), Oct 31, 2014
Vegetable supplies are not expected to meet demand through Thanksgiving because the drought ravaging California has moved up the timeline for harvest, but there aren’t many fields left to harvest. Vegetables from the Yuma, Arizona area are late due to rainfall in late August and early September.

Business & Industry

Marin Sun Farms to close San Francisco facility (San Francisco), Nov 17, 2014
San Francisco
Marin Sun Farms will close its San Francisco meat processing plant at the end of 2014. The rising cost of doing business and the lingering financial impacts from drought on beef producers made it a wise decision to shutter the San Francisco plant.
State exports stay strong despite slowing ag shipments
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 04, 2014
California’s exports of non-manufactured goods, consisting of mainly agricultural produce and raw materials, were nearly the same as last year, which analysts say was a byproduct of the exceptional drought gripping the state.
“With each passing month, we are seeing mounting evidence of the adverse impact the drought is having on California’s multibillion-dollar agricultural export trade,” said Jock O’Connell, an international trade adviser with Beacon, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
California drought boosts South Bay synthetic turf businesses as homeowners turn to artificial grass
Torrance Daily Breeze (California), Oct 27, 2014
South Bay, California
The California synthetic turf industry is thriving as sales skyrocket. One South Bay landscaper reported jumps in annual revenues from under $300,000 in 2012 to more than $2.5 million in the first nine months of the year. An artificial grass supplier based in Torrance reported turf sales for 2014 are on track to be double those of 2013, when 625,000 square feet of turf were sold.
California drought worries pool industry
Yahoo! Finance, Oct 05, 2014
The California pool industry is concerned that more than three dozen water agencies and cities have set rules on pool maintenance. In some cities, residents may not drain or refill pools or must cover pools with covers to reduce evaporation. While business is fine at present, people in the pool industry worry that ongoing drought will eventually hurt pool-related businesses. The California Pool & Spa Association says that pools use less water than traditionally irrigated lawns, and the use of a pool cover reduces evaporation by up to 90 percent.
Drying Up? Six Industries at Big Risk in California's Drought
NBC News, Sep 29, 2014

The industries most challenged by drought include organic dairies, golf courses, breweries, the rice industry, skiing and marijuana farms.


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.
With drought comes downturn in hydroelectricity generation
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), May 23, 2014
Central Texas
Hydropower generation by the Lower Colorado River Authority was 69 percent lower in 2013 than in 2011, due to reduced flows from the Highland Lakes.
California may rely on more gas-fired generation due to drought
Reuters, Jan 10, 2014
With less water stored in California reservoirs, less hydropower will likely be produced in the state in 2014, leading to greater reliance on natural gas-fired power production.
In 2011, hydropower accounted for an above average 21.3 percent and natural gas was used for 45.4 percent of in-state electricity production. In 2012, dry conditions in California shifted the balance to 13.8 percent hydropower and 61.1 percent gas-fired generation. Hydropower is cheaper than gas-fired power.


WILDFIRES: Threat should be dropping this time of year – but isn't
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), Nov 15, 2014
Southern California
Firefighting resources in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are being kept at summer levels. Normally at this time of year, reductions in staffing and equipment are made, but the fire danger remains high, so the staffing reduction is being postponed. The U.S. Forest Service also has kept its staffing levels high in the San Bernardino National Forest and the Cleveland National Forest and continues to renew contracts for firefighting airplanes on a weekly basis.
Wildfires prove costly for California budget
Los Angeles Times, Sep 29, 2014
The expense of fighting California’s many wildfires has used the $209 million set aside for the task, prompting Gov. Brown to access another $70 million from a reserve account, containing $449 million designated for unexpected costs like natural disasters, as fires continue to burn. The federal government may reimburse the state for some of the firefighting costs incurred so far.
State officials set aside more money than usual for firefighting, but the funds were spent less than three months after they were marked for firefighting. In addition, the extra money spent on firefighting has made the governor reluctant to commit funds to other programs.
Pacific Northwest wildfire season: Oregon and Washington topped nation in acres burned
Oregon Live (Portland, Ore.), Sep 24, 2014
Washington, Oregon
Oregon and Washington endured 3,270 wildfires that burned 1,284,013 acres of federal, state and private land from the start of 2014 through Sept. 22, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The number of fires was lower than the 10-year average, but the spatial extent of the fires was nearly three times the 10-year average of 452,039 acres. The largest fire in each state was the Carlton Complex in Washington at 256,108 acres and the Buzzard Complex in southeastern Oregon at 395,747 acres. Both states have been affected by drought since the start of the year.
Total firefighting costs have risen to $446 million, in comparison with $235 million at this time last year, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
Little rain makes for anxious fire officials
FOX6 WBRC-TV (Birmingham, Alabama), Aug 30, 2014
Dry conditions have allowed more fires than usual across Alabama, where summer is not normally a part of their fire season. During a recent seven-day period, 43 wildfires blackened more than 593 acres, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.
Lightning strikes in Northern California spark 34 new wildfires
Los Angeles Times, Aug 11, 2014
Northern California
Since the end of July, more than a dozen wildfires have blackened more than 100,000 acres in northern California.

Plants & Wildlife

Drought blamed for bear activity
Curry Coastal Pilot (Brookings, Oregon), Nov 18, 2014
Southwestern Oregon
Hungry bears have been causing problems in the Brookings area because drought prevented a good acorn crop. Apple trees and garbage have been targets of the famished bruins, prompting a spike in calls to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife during the past month with up to five calls in a single day.
Sacramento’s salmon run in full swing, but drought still a worry
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 16, 2014
Sacramento Valley, California
Drought has slowed the salmon spawning run in the Sacramento Valley where more than 300,000 fall-run Chinook, also known as king, salmon are expected to swim up rivers and streams and spawn during October and November.
Preserving an Accident, the Salton Sea in California, for the Good of Nature
The New York Times, Nov 10, 2014
Salton Sea in Southern California
Drought and less water from the Colorado River are combining to allow the salty Salton Sea to slowly shrink. Less shallow water and fewer fish leave the migrating pelicans and grebes hungry. As more of the lakebed is exposed, more dust blows and affects children’s respiratory systems. The highest childhood asthma rates in the state are near the Salton Sea.
Cranes crowd Staten Island as other Valley habitat dries up
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 07, 2014
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
About twice as many sandhill cranes as usual have come to winter on Staten Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A much larger population of greater white fronted geese has also arrived on the island. A conservation scientist with The Nature Conservancy and other scientists were unsure of the exact reason for the change, but think that drought and a shift in cultivated crops are responsible for the vast number of birds showing up on Staten Island.
Deaths of Galveston Bay clams may signal trouble
Wichita Falls Times Record News (Texas), Oct 31, 2014
Galveston Bay, Texas
Fewer rangia clams exist in the northeast inlet of Galveston Bay, suggesting to scientists that there was not enough fresh water flowing into the bay from the Trinity River. Rangia clams are found near sources of fresh water and do not reproduce or mature when the water is too salty. Because the mollusk is not commercially harvested, its location and abundance has not been closely monitored, except in connection with oyster surveys.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Feinstein pulls plug on California water bill
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Nov 20, 2014
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California ended negotiations on the water bill in favor of trying again when the next session of Congress resumes in January.
Limits end on most California stream diversions
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 19, 2014
Curtailments imposed by the State Water Resources Control Board have ended for junior water rights holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds dated after 1914 and in the Russian River watershed. Recent rainfall boosted river flow, allowing the board to lift curtailments, but dry weather could bring further curtailments.
California, Nevada governors team up on drought
Chico Enterprise-Record (California), Nov 13, 2014
Western U.S.
The Western Governors’ Association met with the goal of devising the best ways of coping with the epic drought parching the western U.S. for three years. Discussions included managing drought’s effects on agriculture.
Higher Food Prices, Drought Water Bank Possible if 2015 is Dry, Water Officials Tell State Board of Food and Ag
Association of California Water Agencies (Sacramento, Calif.), Nov 04, 2014
From a potential drought water bank to increased food prices and assistance for unemployed farmworkers, water planners on the local, state and federal levels are gearing up for a possible dry 2015.
That was the overview delivered by water officials from many agencies who appeared before the California State Board of Food and Agriculture to discuss how another dry year might impact groundwater, agriculture, food prices, and water system operations. The discussion was part of a briefing on plans for 2015.
Temporary moratorium for new water service connections ordered in Hidden Valley Lake
Lake Country News (Lucerne, Calif.), Oct 28, 2014
Hidden Valley Lake, California
The Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District was ordered to stop allowing new service connections to its water system because there was insufficient water to meet demand. The State Water Resources Control Board issued the temporary service connection moratorium on Oct. 17. The district must find an alternate water source before the moratorium will be lifted.
Twenty-one other water districts in California also received such orders.

Society & Public Health

Dry Central California town gets portable showers
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), Nov 18, 2014
East Porterville, California
Portable showers have been set up for the hundreds of East Porterville residents who have no running water. The Tulare County Office of Emergency Management provided the showers because they were concerned about residents taking sponge baths from buckets of water as many are forced to do, and the winter bringing colder weather. People must bring their own soap and towels.
A world without chocolate? Confection giants sound the alarm
CBS News, Nov 17, 2014

Drought has slowed cocoa production in Ivory Coast and Ghana, and pests and diseases have curbed production, too. Now Ebola in West Africa has sparked new concern that production might be slowed and drive up chocolate prices.
Turkey Production Down, Wholesale Prices Up
ABC News, Nov 15, 2014
Turkey production in the U.S. was the lowest in nearly 30 years, and wholesale prices are at record levels, but likely will not affect turkey prices too much in the grocery store.
Byproduct of drought: Water thieves
Contra Costa Times (Calif.), Nov 07, 2014
Water thefts are becoming more common in the Bay Area and from urban suppliers in California, according to the Association of California Water Agencies and several Bay Area water districts. Some water rustlers fill up at water hydrants during the night, while others are bolder and take water in broad daylight.
A number of cities including Lemoore, Modesto, Los Gatos, Dublin, San Ramon and others have recently dealt with such thefts.
City Of Santa Monica Joins "Dirty Car Pledge" To Help Fight Drought
Santa Monica Mirror (Calif.), Nov 13, 2014
Nearly 6,000 Californians have committed to not washing their cars to conserve water and raise drought awareness as they take part in Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s “Dirty Car Pledge.” More than 300 Santa Monica city vehicles are staying dirty to conserve water, and Burbank was not washing more than 350 vehicles for 60 days.

Tourism & Recreation

Lake-level watching is new tourism fad
Merced Sun-Star (Calif.), Nov 16, 2014
More tourists were flocking to see foundations, old bridges and other relics as drought depletes California lakes and exposes objects not seen in many years. In Lake Don Pedro, the foundation from the stamp mill of the old Eagle-Shawmut mine has reappeared. Hundreds of curious people have visited the lake to have a look and sometimes enjoy a picnic.
Many visitors to the New Melones Visitor Center near Highway 49 on the Tuolumne County side of the New Melones Lake inquire about when certain landmarks will become visible.
At Lake McClure, the old Yosemite Railway tunnels are high above the water line and have been exposed for several months. Tourists can also view the concrete pillars of the railroad’s old Barrett Bridge and bits of the foundations from the town and rail stop of Bagby.
As drought continues, boat ramps close on area lakes
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), Oct 17, 2014
Dallas-Fort Worth area
Ongoing drought has dropped lake levels to the point that many boat ramps were no longer useable in north central Texas. The last accessible boat ramp at Eagle Mountain Lake was closed mid-September when water levels fell to a critical point.
At Benbrook Lake, the only open boat ramp was at Mustang Park. Many boat ramps were closed at Lake Grapevine, but most ramps were still open at Joe Pool Lake, Lewisville Lake and Lake Ray Roberts.
Worsening California drought starting to limit outdoor recreation
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 17, 2014
Numerous California lakes and parks continue to feel the pain of the ongoing drought. Yosemite Falls has gone dry; many parks have porta potties for use, instead of flush toilets; and boat ramps were closed. Many plants were also showing drought stress by turning color and dropping leaves early.
Soaking up Catalina, tourists pose dilemma
The Bend Bulletin (Oregon), Aug 14, 2014
Catalina Island, California
Water users in Avalon were told to cut their water use by 25 percent as the city moved into stage 2 mandatory water restrictions on Aug. 11 as the island’s reservoir neared a record low. Since Avalon is a popular tourist destination, it is imperative that the island’s 1 million tourists also conserve along with the town’s 4,000 year-round residents.
To educate visitors about the scarce water supply, signs were posted in hotel rooms asking guests to keep showers brief. Some restaurants began serving food on paper plates and sell customers bottled water for 50 cents when customers request water. Hotels plan to begin sending laundry to the mainland rather than washing it in Avalon.
Drought forces some boats from shrinking Great Salt Lake in Utah
Reuters, Aug 05, 2014
Great Salt Lake, Utah
At least 70 boats had been removed from the Great Salt Lake Park Marina as the lake dips to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

Water Supply & Quality

San Juan Capistrano officials seek solutions to water shortage
Orange County Register (Santa Ana, California), Nov 19, 2014
Orange County, Calif.
The San Juan Capistrano groundwater recovery facility normally produces as much as 50 percent of the city’s drinking water, but low groundwater levels have dropped production to 30 percent. The city stopped using two of its eight wells to allow the basin to recharge, but the water levels continue to drop.
The South Coast Water District closed its single well groundwater recovery facility on Sept. 8 because little water was flowing into the basin. It was feared that salt water intrusion may become an issue. On Sept. 10, a district news release said that the plant would likely remain closed for 45 to 60 days, but that time period has elapsed with no water to replenish the basin. The SCWD serves Dana Point, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and South Laguna.
Citing drought, LCRA seeks to curb Highland Lake releases in 2015
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), Nov 19, 2014
Lower Colorado River in Texas
The Lower Colorado River Authority is seeking permission from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to cut irrigation water releases from the Highland Lakes for the fourth straight year. Water releases take place for six weeks in late spring to aid spawning of blue sucker fish.
Water tanks replace dry wells as drought victims prepare for winter
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Nov 15, 2014
Tulare County, California
Some Tulare County water suppliers are having trouble finding water to deliver to homes with dry wells. One of two water haulers in the county with a license to deliver potable water ended his service because the municipal supplier could not provide him with water any longer.
There are 810 dry wells in Tulare County, and numerous groups are helping people get tank systems set up before winter cold arrives so homes can have hot water flowing from their faucets again.
Drought Photos: See Lake Oroville Fall Near Historic Low Over 20 Months
KQED (San Francisco), Nov 14, 2014
Lake Oroville in Butte County, California
Lake Oroville is the second largest reservoir in the state after Lake Shasta and is the main reservoir for the State Water Project. The lake was at 652 feet above sea level on Nov. 8, not far from the record low of 645 feet set on Sept. 7, 1977.
Pennsylvania American Water Issues Voluntary Conservation Notice For Customers In Nazareth Area (Williamsport, Penn.), Nov 13, 2014
Eastern Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania American Water has asked its customers in the Nazareth service area to voluntarily conserve water due to below normal rainfall for several months and decreasing water levels.


Jamaica Economy Is Rebounding From Contraction, Wynter Says
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Nov 19, 2014
Drought in Jamaica during the summer harmed roughly $1 billion of crops, drove inflation up to 9 percent and made the economy contract by 0.8 percent in the third quarter, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica.
California droughts could leave B.C. high and dry on food
The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario), Nov 18, 2014
British Columbia
British Columbia relies heavily on produce from California and is alarmed at the historic drought gripping the state. The fear is that less produce will reach British Columbia, and when it does, it might cost more than people will pay.
Syria's opposition warns of upcoming food shortage
Fox News, Nov 13, 2014
Drought and civil war have cut Syria’s wheat production by half, compared to production averages between 2001 and 2011. A severe food crisis looms in the next few months, and aid is desperately needed.
Thai Sugar Output May Drop From Record as Drought Hurts Yields
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Nov 12, 2014
Drought decreased sugar production in Thailand, the world’s second largest sugar grower. Sugar output will likely range from 10 million to 11 million metric tons from a cane crush of 98 million to 103 million tons, said a spokesman for Thai Sugar Millers Corp. Cane growth was hindered by dry weather from May through July, which left cane shorter than usual.
Indonesia's 2015 palm output growth to slow after drought -industry
Yahoo! Finance, Nov 11, 2014
Prolonged drought in Sumatra will keep the growth of palm oil production to just 3 percent in 2015, compared to a growth rate of 7 percent this year. Seasonal rains began two weeks ago.


Can planners stop drought harming the tourist dollar?
environmentalresearchweb (Bristol, U.K.), Nov 18, 2013

Tourism and recreation industry representatives should be involved in drought preparedness activities for the benefit of the state and the tourist/recreation industry.
Gold found growing in eucalyptus trees in world-first CSIRO research
Australian Broadcast Corporation, Oct 23, 2013
Eucalyptus trees in Australia were found to have particles of gold in the trees’ leaves, twigs and bark. The trees’ roots grew down 30 meters to find moisture and tapped into gold underground.
Pollen Study Points to Drought as Culprit in Bronze Age Mystery
The New York Times, Oct 22, 2013
Fossilized pollen revealed that drought probably led to the collapse of civilization in modern-day Israel.
Extreme weather can be the 'most important cause of poverty'
BBC News (London), Oct 15, 2013

Research by the Overseas Development Institute revealed that drought and other extreme weather events will be the primary cause of poverty in 2030 and will hinder work to eradicate poverty.
Massive spruce beetle outbreak in Colorado tied to drought, according to new CU study
University of Colorado Boulder, Oct 10, 2013
Research from the University of Colorado in Boulder found that high in the northern Colorado mountains, drought was the main trigger for a massive spruce beetle outbreak.


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.
USDA Recommends New Practice to Combat Drought
WIUM-FM Tri States Public Radio (Macomb, Illinois), Aug 27, 2013
Illinois, Midwest
The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service says that drain water management techniques can help farmers cope with drought as they regulate how much water is allowed to drain from a field. A device can be attached to the ends of tile lines to act as a valve to keep needed moisture from draining away.
FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: Cover crops boost yield in dry years
The Quincy Herald-Whig (Ill.), Aug 21, 2013
The use of cover crops boosted agricultural output in drought-stricken areas in 2012. In the fall of 2012 from a survey of more than 750 farmers in the Midwest, corn crops planted after cover crops yielded 9.6 percent more corn in comparison with side-by-side fields without cover crops. Soybean yields were 11.6 percent higher following cover crops.
In the driest parts of the Corn Belt, the differences were even more striking, with an 11 percent increase in yield for corn and a 14.3 percent yield increase for soybeans.
Drought Headlines Archive

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