Wednesday, August 24, 2016

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

Most of NM experiencing moderate drought conditions
Las Cruces Sun-News (N.M.), Aug 04, 2016
New Mexico
High July temperatures and below normal rainfall left New Mexico dealing with moderate drought. This state, like California, was disappointed by the recent El Niño which did not bring a wet winter as had been optimistically forecast.
Weather watchers express concern over ‘flash drought’
Seguin Gazette (Texas), Jul 15, 2016
Texas weather forecasters fear that a flash drought is developing in the central part of the state because precipitation has fallen to 25 percent of normal for the past 30 days.
Research: California years away from making drought recovery
San Francisco Chronicle (, Jun 22, 2016
Drought recovery in California could take four years, even with above-normal snowfall in the Sierra Nevada during the next several winters, said a researcher from UCLA.
Corn Belt Could Have ‘Flash Drought’ This Summer, U.S. Says
Bloomberg, Jun 16, 2016
High temperatures and a reduction in rainfall could lead to a flash drought in the Corn Belt, the Climate Prediction Center warned. Drought development may recur in Oregon and Washington also.
Parts of eastern New York on the cusp of drought conditions
WIVB News 4 (Buffalo, N.Y.), Jun 03, 2016
Eastern New York
Parts of eastern New York were abnormally dry with rivers and streams at near-record lows in some areas. Precipitation was below average during the winter and spring.


Drought conditions taking a toll on Michigan's crops
Corn & Soybean Digest (Minneapolis, Minn.), Aug 12, 2016
Drought stress became apparent in Minnesota’s crops after the past two weeks of hot, dry weather revealed that soil moisture was exhausted since little rain fell after crops were planted. Among late planted corn, yield losses of 40 to 60 percent may occur with even larger losses if significant rain does not fall this week.
Drought continues, affecting farmers
The Daily News (Batavia, N.Y.), Aug 09, 2016
Western New York
Corn in western New York was just two feet high and was done growing after a dry summer deprived the crop of adequate water. A farmer in Genesee County reported that his corn had tasseled and was just above knee-high. He also noted that many animals—bugs, deer and woodchucks—were damaging his crops because they were the best moisture source on the land.
Crops withering during drought
Bucyrus Telegraph Forum (Ohio), Aug 08, 2016
Crawford County, Ohio
Ears of corn in Crawford County were smaller than normal and did not have all of their kernels. The soybeans, too, were coping with the lack of moisture by dropping pods because the plants did not have sufficient water to produce all of them.
As drought worsens, local farmers battle more wildlife invaders
WIVB News 4 (Buffalo, N.Y.), Aug 04, 2016
Western New York
Hungry deer were eating broccoli on a farm near Brant, leading the farmer to come up with schemes to outwit the hungry critters. Chickens were kept inside to protect them from predators. Short corn stalks left the small ears vulnerable to hungry raccoons.
Mild drought costing local dairy farmers
WDTN-TV 2 News (Moraine, Ohio), Aug 04, 2016
West central Ohio
Livestock producers in west central Ohio have not had fresh grass for their cattle all summer and were having to feed twice as much hay as they typically would.

Business & Industry

Summer drought taking toll on lawn care companies (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
Missouri River
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.
California craft beer brewers balance drafts and drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), Oct 11, 2015
As California communities strive to meet their water conservation goals, those communities also ask businesses, including craft beer brewers, to slash water use. While larger breweries might have the capital to increase water use efficiency, smaller ones in many cases do not.
Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave
The New York Times, Aug 19, 2015
Continued economic growth requires building more homes, creating new jobs and drawing in more people, but it is not clear that water supplies will be able to meet demand. Some see drought as being cyclical, while other view it as the new normal, leading to conflicting perspectives on new development.
California drought brings a golden lining
The Sacramento Bee, Jun 22, 2015
Sierra Nevada, California
Low water levels in California’s drought-sapped rivers and streams have exposed more riverbed for prospectors seeking gold. Some stretches have become too dry for panning and sluicing, but in the meantime, prospectors keep finding new areas rich with gold. Hardware and mining supply stores from Columbia in Tuolumne County to Auburn in Placer County benefited from the renewed interest of locals and tourists hoping to find a few pieces of gold.


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.
In Parched California, a Farmer’s Market Is Emerging for Power
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Sep 03, 2015
California farmers were pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of drought and were using hundreds of millions of dollars more electricity than normal to power the pumps. In the Central Valley, farmers may use groundwater to meet more than 60 percent of their irrigation needs in 2015, one-third more than a normal year, At that rate, electric bills would rise 77 percent, or $600 million, compared to a year with normal precipitation.
California First To Feel Hydro-Power Crunch Of Drought
CBS2/KCAL9 (Studio City, Calif.), Mar 21, 2015
During the past three years, declining hydropower production in California cost utility customers $1.4 billion as power from alternate sources, such as natural gas-fired plants, was purchased to compensate for reduced hydroelectric production. The use of more fossil fuels also drove California carbon dioxide emissions up 8 percent.
Hydropower production at Lake Mead in May is expected to dip to 50 percent of mid-2014 levels.


More than 2 dozen large wildfires burn in Western states
Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Mont.), Aug 03, 2016
Western U.S.
Twenty-seven large wildfires were burning in the West as hot, dry windy weather makes the blazes difficult to control. States with large wildfires included California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Dry weather prompts fire restrictions through the county
Cache Valley Daily (Utah), Jul 15, 2016
Northern Utah
Hot, dry weather led the Utah State Forester to prohibit the use of fireworks, campfires, target shooting and smoking in many unincorporated areas of Cache County.
Burning bans could impact area fireworks
Lansing State Journal (Mich.), Jun 27, 2016
Dozens of burning bans were in effect around Lansing, Michigan as dry weather increased the fire danger at a time of year when the public often lights fireworks. Burning bans were in effect in Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Leslie and Dansville, in addition to many other townships in Ingham County.
The Delta Township Fire Department issued a burning ban for all of Delta Township in Eaton County and Eagle and Watertown Townships in Clinton County. DeWitt Township fire officials also banned fireworks use, according to the township's Facebook page. Burning bans were also in place in the Grand Ledge and Portland areas.
Officials confirm 2 deaths in out-of-control fire in Kern County
Los Angeles Times, Jun 24, 2016
Near Lake Isabella in southern California
A wind-driven wildfire claimed more than 19,000 acres and at least 80 homes and another 20 structures near Lake Isabella, east of Bakersfield. The blaze continued to threaten 1,500 homes and displayed erratic behavior. Residents were evacuated from nearby communities.
Dry spring makes southern Maine a hot spot for ground fires
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Jun 21, 2016
Southern Maine
Ground fires were already occurring in southern Maine and in neighboring New Hampshire as the warm, dry winter and dry spring allowed the fire season to begin earlier. Ground fires typically occur in August and September after the heat of summer has dried out the ground.

Plants & Wildlife

Tree mortality at all time high in Calaveras
The Union Democrat (Sonora, Calif.), Aug 09, 2016
Calaveras County, California
Trees in Calaveras County were dying at a faster rate than other Sierra communities because drought has weakened the trees and the Butte fire drew many bark beetles to the region. More than 650,000 trees—mostly ponderosa, lodgepole, sugar and other types of pine trees—were killed by the beetles.
Fewer mosquitoes in New Hanover this season because it's hot and dry (Wilmington, N.C.), Aug 03, 2016
Southern coastal North Carolina
Drier weather and heat has reduced the mosquito population in New Hanover County, possibly making this year one of the lowest for mosquito spraying.
Feds: Drought kills 66 million trees in California's Sierra
San Francisco Chronicle (, Jun 22, 2016
California's Sierra Nevada
Roughly 66 million trees died since 2010 in a six-county region of California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada most severely affected by the drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warm temperatures, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The tree mortality from Tuolumne to Kern counties rose by 65 percent since the last figures were announced in October 2015, which documented 40 million dead trees. The sheer number of dead trees could fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives, said officials.
Tree die-off in local forests caused by past drought years
Medford Mail Tribune (Oregon), Jun 06, 2016
Three years of drought and insects have killed numerous trees in Southern Oregon forests. Douglas firs were the most common victim, but even more drought-resistant Ponderosa pines were succumbing to the dryness. From the Applegate Valley north into the Willamette Valley, the orange hue of dead conifers marks the landscape, with the numbers of dead trees eclipsing that of the mid-1990s and the early 2000s when years of less intense drought changed the countryside. An aerial mapping survey will be conducted by the Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry in July, as has been done annually since the late 1940s, to determine the scale of the die-off.
US agency's Nevada boss urges roundup of 4,000 mustangs
The Sacramento Bee, May 02, 2016
Elko County, Nevada
U.S. Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director John Ruhs would like to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County because the drought-affected rangeland was deteriorating, but the agency does not have the funds for such a round up. Apart from the large roundup, it was unlikely that he could lift livestock grazing restrictions in the northeast corner of Nevada. The mustangs were on four herd-management areas covering over 600 square miles.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Massachusetts drought conditions 'unprecedented'
Berkshire Eagle (Mass.), Aug 11, 2016
The Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force met on Aug. 11 and recommended that all of the state be included in the drought declaration and that the drought watch for Central and Northeast Massachusetts be upgraded to a drought warning.
Gov. Hassan asks for drought disaster declaration for Seacoast (Portsmouth, N.H.), Aug 05, 2016
New Hampshire
Gov. Maggie Hassan of N.H. requested a drought disaster designation for Rockingham, Strafford and Grafton counties, citing more than 30 percent in crop losses.
Drought warning issued for much of western New York
New Jersey Herald (Newton, N.J.), Aug 04, 2016
New York
A drought warning was issued for a large part of western New York. The counties include Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Seneca, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates. The rest of New York remained in a drought watch.
DEP Declares Drought Watch for 34 Pennsylvania Counties
Gant Daily (Clearfield, Penn.), Aug 03, 2016
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch declaration for 34 counties and a drought warning declaration for Potter County following a meeting of the Commonwealth Drought Task Force where members assessed recent water supply conditions. Low stream flows, declining groundwater levels and below-normal precipitation were the main factors leading to the declarations.
Drought Watch Issued for Most of Northern New Jersey
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Jul 25, 2016
New Jersey
The Department of Environmental Protection issued a water supply drought watch for most of northern New Jersey on July 25. The counties included are Bergen, Essex, Hunterdon, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

Society & Public Health

Task force says parts of Maine experiencing drought
Bangor Daily News (Maine), Aug 04, 2016
Groundwater and surface water levels were well-below normal for this time of year, particularly in the southern half of Maine.
13 Montana Counties Under Drought Alert
Flathead Beacon (Mont.), Jul 19, 2016
Nine counties in southern and northwestern Montana were added to the list of counties under drought alerts. The most recent additions were Carter, Carbon, Yellowstone, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Powell, Ravalli, Missoula and Sanders. Drought alerts took effect for Glacier, Pondera, Teton and northern Lewis and Clark counties in June.
Dry weather bringing people, bears together in New England
Central CT Communications, Jul 03, 2016
New England

The dry weather in Connecticut diminished the berry crop, driving black bears to bird feeders, garbage cans and backyards grills in search of food. People need to be aware of their surroundings. The Maine Warden Service had already received more than 200 bear complaints as of mid-June, compared to last year when they received about 400 complaints for the entire year.

Rescued elephant delivers calf at Dallas Zoo
CBS News, May 24, 2016
Dallas, Texas
An elephant evacuated from Swaziland in southern Africa birthed a 175-pound male calf. His weight was on the low side because his mother could not find enough food while in Swaziland.
Casino magnate Wynn envisions water paradise in dry Nevada
The Washington Post, May 25, 2016
Las Vegas
A Las Vegas casino magnate’s idea for a water park has not been received with enthusiasm in the desert city where water is scarce. The Paradise Park development proposal revealed by Wynn Resorts in April would center on a 38-acre, man-made lake built on the site of an 18-hole golf course. Steve Wynn, the CEO of Wynn Resorts, said the park would be an amenity paid for by the resorts fee on hotel rooms at his Wynn and Encore properties, in addition to a new 1,000-room hotel tower. Others would pay a $20 to $30 entrance fee to enjoy the festive “lunacy.”

Tourism & Recreation

Maine wildlife agency raises concerns as drought stresses trout, salmon
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Aug 12, 2016
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommended that fishermen try to reduce stress on fish by fishing earlier or later in the day when temperatures are lower, and catch and release fish quickly by using barbless hooks to expedite the release.
GFP Commission votes to release 50 more elk hunting licenses due to drought
Capital Journal (Pierre, S.D.), Aug 07, 2016
South Dakota
South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks Department will offer an additional 50 cow elk hunting licenses this year as part of a drought contingency program in the state’s elk management plan. Five additional licenses will be issued for each of 10 northern Black Hills antlerless elk hunting units where the range conditions were deteriorating rapidly.
As Lake Powell recedes, Glen Canyon reveals its secrets
Durango Herald (Colo.), Apr 13, 2016
Lake Powell in southern Utah
Lake Powell was at 104 feet below full pool, which allows hikers to access areas not seen since before the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in the 1950s.
Upper Big Falls in San Bernardino National Forest closed as rescues more than triple
Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2015
A seven-acre area around Upper Big Falls in the San Bernardino National Forest was closed by the park on Oct. 8 because too many climbers have chosen to scale the face of the falls and needed to be rescued.
Skiers, resorts cast hopeful eye toward El Niño
Los Angeles Times, Oct 02, 2015
California ski resorts, hoping to sell plenty of season passes, were hedging their bets by offering incentives, such as discounts or guarantees, if deep powder does not materialize this winter as in past winters. At some resorts, for instance, skiers can get discounts on next year’s season pass if the skier is unable to ski more than a certain number of days this winter.

Water Supply & Quality

Fire Chief Sounds Alarm About Dangerously Low Water Levels
Boston CBS Local, Aug 11, 2016
Uxbridge, Massachusetts
Water supplies in Uxbridge have become so low that the fire chief warned that the shortage of water could hamper firefighting efforts if a large fire broke out.
As drought drags on, some southern Maine areas are feeling the effects
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Aug 11, 2016
Berwick, Maine
Berwick water authorities issued a water quality advisory because the city’s water source, the Salmon Falls River, was unusually high in manganese, causing the water to turn a blackish color. High levels of manganese have been linked to developmental and neurological problems in children exposed to extremely high manganese levels, prompting authorities to advise parents of young children to switch to bottled water.
'Getting more concerned' as dry conditions continue
Portsmouth Herald (N.H.), Aug 09, 2016
York County, Maine
Hand-dug wells in York County were beginning to fail, although drilled wells were still in good shape, said Art Cleaves, director of York County Emergency Management.
Oswego mayor urges residents to conserve water, warns of 'critically low' levels
Syracuse Post-Standard & (N.Y.), Aug 04, 2016
Oswego, New York
Residents of Oswego were urged by their mayor to conserve water because the drought has caused the city’s ground storage water tank to drop near a critically low level. All water users were asked to limit usage to the necessities and delay activities such as lawn watering, car washing and pool filling until after Labor Day. The mayor warned that water continued “to be depleted at a rate that could cause a significant health hazard if water conservation measures are not undertaken," according to a news release.
State officials urge Mainers to be smart about water usage
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Aug 04, 2016
Below average snowfall last winter has had Maine water officials monitoring water conditions for several months. As the dry weather persists, officials were worrying about the increase in wildfires and the availability of water to fight them.


Worst fires in almost two decades ravage hills around Marseille
Reuters, Aug 11, 2016
Southern France
Forest fires burned along France’s Mediterranean coast and near Marseilles, forcing the evacuations of thousands of people.
"The drought of the last few months and the strong mistral winds worked like a powder keg," Richard Mallie, head of the firefighting service said on France Bleu Provence radio. "The fires spread at phenomenal speed, 2,500 meters an hour."
Algae is turning this Iranian lake from dark green to blood red
Science, Aug 02, 2016
Drought, rising water temperatures and poor water management have contributed to the evaporation of Lake Urmia in Iran. At present, algae and bacterial blooms were turning the saltwater lake red.
South Africa’s Drought Worsened by Normal Dry Winter Weather
Bloomberg, Aug 01, 2016
South Africa
South Africa had its driest year since record keeping began in 1904, and typical dry winter weather was not improving the situation. Livestock were in reasonable to poor condition and grazing was in poor condition in most areas.
U.N. warns of 'race against time' for 23 million drought-stricken African farmers
Reuters, Jul 28, 2016
Southern Africa
Farmers in southern Africa need immediate assistance to prepare for the next planting season which begins in a few weeks, said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Seeds, fertilizer and tools are needed to produce a good harvest in March 2017 and reduce dependence on humanitarian assistance.
Millions need aid as Zimbabwe battles drought
Reuters, Jul 26, 2016
Zimbabwean farmers lost cattle and crops to drought that gripped the country. More children were dying, and by March 2017, as many as 4.5 million people will need aid, said the United Nations Development Program.


Rainfall following drought linked to historic nitrate levels in Midwest streams in 2013, Jun 07, 2016

Periods of drought followed by rainfall caused nitrate levels to spike in some Midwest streams during a 2013 study, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report published in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Plants remember stress to help protect themselves, Jun 01, 2016

Research from the University of Warwick in the U.K. revealed that plants have evolved ways to remember previous exposures to stress, such as high salinity conditions, which can help subsequent progenies withstand the same stress in future.
Researchers identify critical factors that determine drought vulnerability of wheat, maize
Science Daily (Rockville, Md.), May 26, 2016

Researchers from the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis identified critical information about the environmental variables and agronomic factors that determine the vulnerability of maize and wheat production to drought.
US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
The 2012 drought did not turn the U.S. into a net carbon source, as occurred during Europe’s hot summer in 2003, but the country continued to be a carbon sink. As it turns out, the warm spring prompted vegetation to begin growing earlier, thus absorbing more carbon.
Researchers Unveil New Drought-Fighting GMO For Long-Suffering Crops
Growing Alabama, Mar 30, 2016

Scientists at Purdue are focusing on a gene that causes the plant to have rapid leaf pore closure, a reduced rate of water loss due to evaporation, alleviated cell membrane damage and improved photosynthesis that results in an improved reaction to drought conditions.


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.
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.
Drought Headlines Archive

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