Tuesday, May 22, 2018

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

More than 60 percent of New Mexico in 'extreme drought'
KOB 4 (Albuquerque, N.M.), May 18, 2018
New Mexico

About 64 percent of New Mexico was in extreme drought or worse and could be headed toward a bad wildfire season.

Drought Returns To Huge Swaths Of U.S., Fueling Fears Of A Thirsty Future
Huffington Post, Apr 17, 2018

With almost one-third of the continental U.S. in some level of drought and the expectation of a hot, dry summer, the concern becomes whether water supplies will be adequate and how to stretch existing reserves.

Report: Drought Expands; Oklahoma Sees Worst Conditions
The New York Times, Apr 12, 2018
Southwest, Southern Plains

Drought has intensified in the Southwest with the heart of the drought being Oklahoma, where about 20 percent of the state was in exceptional drought.

Late-winter storms slow California's dive back into drought
San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), Apr 02, 2018

As of April 2, the Sierra Nevada snowpack was 52 percent of normal, which was far better than it was one month prior.  The late-season storms were very helpful and fortunately, reservoirs were still full from last year’s abundant winter precipitation.

When A Drought Lasts 18 Years, Does It Need A New Name?
KUNC-FM 91.5 (Greeley, Colo.), Mar 28, 2018
Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona

Parts of the Colorado River Basin were in their 18th year of drought, with a few wetter years interspersed.  Brad Udall with Colorado State University suggested that drought was no longer a useful term to describe what was happening in the Southwest when aridification might be a better descriptor.


Report: US winter wheat forecast down amid drought, surplus
The Washington Post, May 10, 2018

The wheat crop is expected to be the smallest in more than 10 years as drought gripped the Southern Plains, damaging crops, and a global surplus kept prices down.  According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the 2018 wheat crop is forecast to be 1.19 billion bushels, 6 percent lower than in 2017.

Wheat tour leads to sharply lower 2018-19 expectations
Feedstuffs (St. Charles, Ill.), May 04, 2018
Kansas, Oklahoma

The Wheat Quality Council’s Hard Red Wheat Tour discovered that wheat was two to four weeks behind developmentally in northern Kansas. The dry conditions averted disease establishment, but also threatened yield potential.

Statewide, the final average yield potential was 37.0 bushels per acre, or about 2.49 metric tons per hectare (6.61 million metric tons) for the 2018-19 Kansas hard red wheat crop. The total production estimate was 243 million bushels, compared to 282 million bushels the previous year.

The estimated average yield for wheat in Oklahoma was 24.8 bushels per acre, or 1.67 metric tons per hectare, for a total production estimate of 54.8 million bushels, according to a crop report. If the estimate is accurate, production would be 44 percent lower, compared to the previous year.

Drought, wildfires force ranchers to scramble for feed
NewsOK.com (Oklahoma City), Apr 24, 2018

Cattle ranchers in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico were hard pressed to find hay or pastureland, due to ongoing drought and numerous wildfires. Some ranchers were even resorting to selling livestock.

Hay Shortage Grows, Prices Nearly Double
Agriculture.com (Des Moines, Iowa), Apr 18, 2018

Farmers in the Iowa were running short on hay as winter refused to completely release its grip on the region, driving up hay prices. Snow has slowed the growth of spring pastures, worsening the hay shortage that began in the arid fall of 2017 as producers continued to feed hay until weather becomes warmer to promote pasture growth. Missouri horse farmers were in an especially tight spot looking for high-quality alfalfa, while some cattle producers resorted to selling some livestock.

Cattle Market Struggles as Drought Lingers
AgWeb (Mexico, Mo.), Apr 16, 2018

In February, 1.82 million cattle were sent to feedlots, an increase of 7.3 percent from 2017.  With drought in the Plains, it is expected that more cattle will be sent to feed yards for fattening, which hastens the growing process, sending more livestock to market earlier than usual.

Business & Industry

Bankers: Drought Still Burdening Rural Economy in 10 States
U.S. News & World Report, Aug 17, 2017
Plains and Midwest

The overall Rural Mainstreet Index for 10 Plains and Midwestern states rose from July’s 40.7 to 42.2 in August.  Any number below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.  Nearly 58 percent of bankers who participated in the August survey felt that drought conditions were negatively impacting agricultural products in their area.  Surveyors consulted bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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.


A silver lining from California's drought: Water conservation led to reduced energy use and less pollution
Los Angeles Times, Jan 12, 2018

From June 2015 through April 2016, when Californians curbed their water use by 24.5 percent, or 524,000 million gallons of water, they also conserved a lot of electricity at the same time.  By using less water, they conserved 1830 gigawatt hours of electricity—enough to electrify 274,000 average homes for one year.

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.


Stage III Forest Closures in Parts of Arizona
Prescott eNews (Ariz.), May 18, 2018
Northeastern Arizona

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management closed state-owned and managed lands in Apache and Navajo counties to recreational use on May 18.

Fire restrictions coming to southern Arizona
KVOA-TV NBC 4 Tucson (Ariz.), Apr 24, 2018
Southern Arizona

The Arizona Department of Forestry announced fire restrictions for the southern part of the state beginning May 1 as drought worsened.  The fire restrictions mean campfires, barbecues and wood stoves are prohibited even within developed recreation sites until further notice.  Areas affected by the fire restrictions included all districts of the Coronado National Forest, Saguaro National Park, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Tumacácori National Historical Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

After Brief Relief, Forecasts Indicate Drought Will Continue
The New York Times, Apr 23, 2018

Dry weather is expected to prolong the fire danger in the Southwest this summer as wildfires have already burned many acres in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Local, statewide burn bans extended and expanded
Enid News & Eagle (Okla.), Apr 17, 2018

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s list of counties in a burn ban was expanded by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb from 16 counties to encompass 36 counties in western and central Oklahoma as the state reeled from numerous wildfires devastating the region.

Drought, Low Snowpack Mean Wildfire Season Could Be As Bad As 2012, 2013
Colorado Public Radio (Centennial, Colo.), Apr 13, 2018

Colorado’s fire season may be extremely bad, based on drought and low snowpack.  Statewide, snowpack was 70 percent of average, and less than 40 percent of average in the Upper Rio Grande Basin.

Plants & Wildlife

Drought, price of hay has state auctioning off bison herd
Tulsa World (Okla.), May 10, 2018

About 55 bison were auctioned from the Foss State Park Herd as drought, dry pasture and the price of hay make keeping the animals too costly.

Minnow rescues under way as portions of Rio Grande dry up
Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas), Apr 13, 2018
New Mexico

Biologists began rescue efforts on April 2 to salvage the Rio Grande silvery minnow, a tiny fish listed as endangered since 1994. More than 10 miles of the Rio Grande River in the vicinity of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge were dry, making this one of the earliest salvage efforts as low snowpack and little water threatened the fish.

Dry weather helping Lake Okeechobee recover
Fox 29 WFLX.com (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Mar 28, 2018
Lake Okeechobee, South Florida

Hurricane Irma raised the level of Lake Okeechobee in 2017 and destroyed miles of underwater vegetation.   Drought has allowed the lake level to drop back into a more comfortable range that was allowing the ecosystem to recover, but lower lake levels could be even more beneficial.

California salmon lose way after ride downstream in drought
The Sacramento Bee, Dec 26, 2017

Six million fewer fall-run Chinook salmon were produced at the federal Coleman National Fish Hatchery for release into Battle Creek in the spring of 2018, half of the usual production of 12 million fish. Past years of drought, notably 2014 and 2015, led biologists to truck juvenile salmon to the Delta because rivers were warm and shallow rather than cold, roiling rivers of stormwater runoff that protect the fish. Transporting the fish resulted in fewer fish being able to return on their own to the fishery to spawn as returns of spring- and winter-run salmon born during drought were some of the lowest on record.

California losing 2 million trees a month as drought-related plague drags on
San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), Dec 11, 2017

Trees continued to die in the Sierra Nevada more than a year after the end of California’s multiyear drought.  The U.S. Forest Service reported that 27 million trees died since November 2016, bringing the total of dead trees to roughly 129 million on about 8.9 million acres of land since 2010.  The trees were stressed and dehydrated by drought, making them more vulnerable to bark beetle infestations and other ills.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Drought status remains in Bamberg, not Calhoun and Orangeburg
Orangeburg Times and Democrat (S.C.), Apr 25, 2018
South Carolina

The South Carolina Drought Response Committee determined that 15 counties remained in incipient drought as of April 25. Parts of the Midlands and central Savannah area received less than 60 percent of normal precipitation since Dec. 1.

Drought Emergency In Grant County
KXL.com (Portland, Ore.), Apr 16, 2018
Grant County, Oregon

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought emergency for Grant County on April 13. Low snowpack, a lack of precipitation, low streamflow and warming temperatures were reasons for the declaration.

The governor declared a drought emergency in Klamath County on March 13.

Kansas Delegation Calls for Emergency Haying and Grazing
USAgNet (Marshfield, Wis.), Mar 20, 2018

Kansas lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue requesting emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands, due to ongoing drought.

USDA: Ag disaster from drought in 4 states
The Brownsville Herald (Texas), Mar 14, 2018
Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas

Drought prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare agriculture disasters in 149 counties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas.

Governor declares drought emergency, warnings, watches
The Hays Daily News (Kan.), Mar 13, 2018

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer issued drought declarations for all 105 counties with Executive Order 18-11, recognizing all counties as being in emergency, warning or watch status.  Counties in emergency status were eligible for emergency water use from certain state fishing lakes.

Society & Public Health

Airborne dust threatens human health in Southwest
Science Daily, Apr 24, 2018
U.S. Southwest

Future droughts in the Southwest may cause an increase in dust emissions, which could result in significant increases in hospital admissions and premature deaths.

Wind, dirt close highways, blow over semi as parts of Kansas drier than Dust Bowl
The Wichita Eagle (Kan.), Mar 06, 2018

Very dry conditions in Kansas and strong winds led to a dust storm on the afternoon of March 6.  The dust storm closed Interstate 70 and other highways, including parts of U.S. 36, U.S. 40 and K-25, for a brief time.  Nearly 99 percent of the state was abnormally dry or worse, with more than 73 percent of the state in moderate or worse drought.

Meat makes a comeback: Prices coming down and U.S. consumption predicted to rise
Yakima Herald (Wash.), Jan 09, 2018

Drought and high feed costs have kept meat prices high in recent years, but the meat supply is expanding, and with that, meat prices were coming down.

North Dakota drought delays reclamation of Cold War site
The Bismarck Tribune (N.D.), Nov 15, 2017
North Dakota

Drought and an inability to get grass growing at the site of a Cold War-era base in Divide County has prevented the full reclamation of the Fortuna Air Force Station. Grass must be seeded on an inert waste disposal pit, but a contractor’s seeding in July did not survive. County workers have since reseeded the area.

The base in northwestern Divide County was activated in 1952 as a radar facility during the Cold War. Before partial deactivation in 1979, Fortuna AFS had long-range and height-finder radar, data and backup systems. The site was decommissioned and abandoned in 1984.

More ink, less water: News coverage of the drought prompted Californians to conserve, study suggests
Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2017

The more news coverage of California’s drought, the more Californians conserved, according to research by Stanford University.

Tourism & Recreation

‘This is really bad:’ Flows in Pecos River are tiny
Albuquerque Journal (N.M.), May 18, 2018
Pecos River in eastern New Mexico

The low water levels prompted New Mexico Game & Fish to stock fewer fish on the Pecos River and take the remaining fish elsewhere. Some of the trout that would normally be stocked in northern New Mexico waterways were instead taken to the San Juan River and Heron, Storrie, Eagle Nest and El Vado lakes.

Annual fishing event affected by ‘dire’ drought
Santa Fe New Mexican , May 04, 2018
Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Children’s Fishing Derby in Santa Fe was postponed due to unusually low inflows into the city’s reservoirs.  The meager inflows also ended the possibility of a spring pulse of water in the Santa Fe River.  The fishing derby usually takes place in early June, but could be rescheduled in the fall if adequate rain falls during the summer. 

Inflow into McClure Reservoir on May 1 was about 1 cubic foot per second, in comparison with the daily projection of about 4 cubic feet per second.

Dry, hot California winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears
Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2018

Royal Gorge, Tahoe Donner, TahoeXC and other Nordic trails were closed for skiing, as the poor snowpack left recreationists looking to fat tire biking rather than skiing. The statewide snowpack for this time of year averaged 21 percent.

Yosemite's 'firefall' unlikely appear due to drought
KFSN-TV ABC 30 Fresno/Visalia (Calif.), Feb 12, 2018
Yosemite National Park in California

Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall may not have the firefall look as it often does in the latter part of February.  The lack of snow meant that there was no water flowing to produce the waterfall.

Ruidoso business owners struggle to stay afloat: 'We haven't had a winter'
KVIA-TV (El Paso, Texas), Feb 08, 2018
Ruidoso, New Mexico

Ski Apache has recorded just 24 inches of snow more than halfway through the ski season, which is far below the 300 inches received during the 2010 season, according to the director of operations for the resort. Despite being able to make artificial snow, the ski area only has six of 54 lanes open for use.

Water Supply & Quality

Low flow to no flow
Minot Daily News (N.D.), May 16, 2018
North central North Dakota

Very low streamflow in north central North Dakota has dam operators at Lake Darling Dam taking drought management measures and not releasing water.  The reservoir has not yet reached normal summer operating level.

River's peak more of a bump
Grand Junction Sentinel (Colo.), May 12, 2018
Colorado River in western Colorado

The Colorado River and Gunnison Rivers were  expected to peak on Mother’s Day at about 8,500 cubic feet per second at the Utah state line.  Given the poor snowpack, this peak would be weeks early and millions of gallons lower than normal flows.

GWSSA: Ken’s Lake water users restricted to 50% allotment
The Moab Times-Independent (Utah), May 10, 2018
Southeast Utah

Ken’s Lake water users south of Moab were notified that their water allotments were limited to 50 percent of normal as precipitation in the region was 46 percent of normal and snow water equivalent was zero.

Mexico, 2 US states could see Colorado River cutback in 2020
The Washington Post, May 09, 2018
Southwest U.S.

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico face a 52 percent chance that they may receive less water from the Colorado River in 2020, according to a report just released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Lake Powell is expected to receive just 43 percent of its typical inflow in 2017.

Lack of rainfall causing Cape wells to dry up, costing homeowners money
WINK-TV WINKNews.com (Fort Myers, Fla.), May 07, 2018
Cape Coral, Florida

Wells were going dry in Cape Coral as drought lowered groundwater levels in the aquifer.  The cost of replacing a burned out motor and having to add more length of pipe to reach the water can easily exceed $1,000.


As wells dry, Zambia regulates use of groundwater
Reuters, May 16, 2018

To deal with drought and increasing water demand, the Zambian government has adopted fees on groundwater use.  The owners of domestic boreholes must pay a one-time fee of about $25 to get their well licensed.

Drought damages big portion of corn in Brazil's Mato Grosso
Reuters, May 14, 2018

Drought was expected to trim second corn (winter corn) production in Brazil’s state of Mato Grosso by as much as 15 percent.

Cyprus entering third year of drought
Cyprus Mail Online (Nicosia), May 10, 2018

Cyprus’ dams were at their lowest since 2008, with demand exceeding the available supply.  Irrigators can expect less water, but the domestic supply will not see any cuts.

'So tinder dry:' Trains suspected in some grass fires in prairie communities
Westman Journal (Brandon, Manitoba), May 09, 2018
Southern Manitoba, Canada

Conditions were so dry in southern Manitoba that trains were suspected of sparking fires as several grass fires burned near Winnipeg.  Since Jan. 1, just 28 mm of precipitation had fallen, setting a new record low.  Conditions were similar in much of Saskatchewan, where there was no moisture to promote spring green up.

World wine output falls to 60-year low
Reuters, Apr 24, 2018

Global wine output dropped to its lowest level in 60 years in 2017, due to bad weather in the European Union.  Wine production amounted to 250 million hectoliters in 2017, down 8.6 percent from 2016, according to the Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine.


Two-degree warming may cause droughts in the Mediterranean region
Phys.org, May 15, 2018

If climate change brings a temperature increase of 2 degrees or more, the probability of the Mediterranean region experiencing extremely dry decades will be five times higher than it is currently.

How a Medieval Society Withstood Nearly 60 Years of Drought
The Atlantic, May 04, 2018

The Uighurs of the Central Asian steppe diversified their economy and increased trade amid a 67-year drought that occurred more than a millennium ago.

Scientists reveal drivers of prolonged spring-summer drought over North China
EurekAlert!, May 07, 2018
North China

Many prolonged spring-summer droughts occurred in North China when La Niña transitioned to El Niño following a winter with a negative North Pacific Oscillation.

California's wild extremes of drought and floods to worsen as climate warms
USA Today, Apr 23, 2018

A new study indicates that California may experience wild weather extremes from dry to wet as the climate continues to warm, according to UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain.  Such whiplash events would likely happen about eight times per century in a warmer climate, compared to about four times a century in a more stable climate.

Climate change intensifies droughts in Europe
EurekAlert!, Apr 23, 2018

If global warming causes a rise in temperatures of three degrees, the drought regions in Europe will expand from 13 percent to 26 percent of the total area compared to the reference period of 1971 to 2000, according to research by scientists from the U.S., the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the Helmholz Center for Environmental Research.


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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