Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
Moderate drought declared for most of the District and surroundings
The Washington Post, Nov 17, 2016
Washington D.C. has received little rain since the start of October and was partially in moderate drought. County agricultural officials in Virginia reported that while the dry weather was beneficial for the harvest, hay and pasture lands were stressed by the lack of rain.
Drought affects local cattle pastures
Swvatoday.com (Wytheville, Va.), Dec 08, 2016
Drought led to poor hay and pasture growth and overgrazing in southwestern Virginia, leaving pastures in poor conditions and in need of fertilizing and reseeding before the spring.
Drought hits another crop – Christmas trees
Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.), Dec 05, 2016
Fewer big Christmas trees can be found in California after five years of below-normal precipitation, but tree growers were selling what they had. The growth of firs and other traditional Christmas trees has been slowed significantly by the meager rain and snowfall in recent years, so it takes longer to get a “full-sized” tree. Drought has been particularly hard on Noble fir trees, with many of them wearing plenty of brown needles.
Drought in 2013 and 2014 cost tree growers thousands of seedlings planted in those years. In recent years, growers have begun buying water to keep the trees growing.
Drought conditions persist in northeastern Wyoming
Billings Gazette (Mont.), Dec 04, 2016
Northeastern Wyoming, western South Dakota
Reduced forage production and poor to good pasture conditions persisted in northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota, due to months of above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall, reported hydrologist Melissa Smith of the National Weather Service. Stock ponds and dugouts were low and limiting water supplies for livestock and other animals. With the ground already frozen, drought could be locked in until spring.
Wheat feeling the stress
Woodward News (Okla.), Dec 01, 2016
Woodward County in northwestern Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s wheat crops were struggling from lack of moisture, said Dana Bay with the Woodward County OSU Extension Service Horticulture and Landscape. In the last 30 days, the county and surrounding areas received less than half an inch of rain. The state’s biggest agricultural commodity is wheat grown for forage, leaving cattle producers anxious about the developing drought.
Region's drought hits 86% of state
ArkansasOnline.com (Little Rock, Ark.), Nov 12, 2016
Many Arkansas livestock producers were out of grass as grazing exhausted pastures and little rain fell to encourage grass growth. The lack of rain also led 15 county judges to issue burn bans that prohibit the outdoor burning of trash, brush and all other debris.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forestry says it will need more money
Times Daily (Florence, Ala.), Nov 23, 2016
As wildfires continued to burn in Alabama, the Forestry Commission has already fought more than 1,900 wildfires that charred 22,750 acres in the first two months of the 2017 fiscal year, which is more than burned in all of 2016. The agency may need more funds on top of the more than $1.1 million already spent to keep battling blazes if dry weather persists. February and March are typically the height of the fire season.
WNC wildfire season unprecedented, no end in sight
Asheville Citizen-Times (N.C.), Nov 17, 2016
Western North Carolina
Autumn 2016 has been Western North Carolina’s driest in 104 years and has not brought significant rainfall in 80 days. Flames have consumed about 47,000 acres and demonstrated unusual fire behavior.
"A typical Western North Carolina wildland fire only burns the leaf litter and debris on the ground,” said Mills River Fire Chief Rick Livingston. “With this (Party Rock) fire in a lot of cases what we’ve seen is a total burn of the bushes, trees and everything in its path has been consumed by fire which is unusual in Western North Carolina."
Brush Fire in Cornwall, Warren Is Largest in Recent History
WVIT NBC Connecticut (West Hartford, Conn.), Nov 14, 2016
A brush fire in the Wyantenock State Forest in Cornwall blackened about 250 acres since it began from lightning strikes in mid-September, according to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Plants & Wildlife
Weakened by drought, trees are falling in rainy California
The Washington Post, Jan 10, 2017
California’s trees, stressed and worn from years of drought, have fallen and killed two people during the past month. Many of the trees seemed strong and sturdy, but gave way amid heavy rains and winds. A woman was killed on Jan. 7 in Northern California when a tree collapsed on her on a golf course.
The heavy rain may also be having the effect of suddenly killing trees rather than reviving them, said William Libby, a retired professor of forestry and genetics at the University of California, Berkeley. He compared it to a starving person eating too much food too quickly.
Drought is damaging California’s giant sequoias
The Washington Post, Dec 09, 2016
Drought has killed millions of trees in California’s forests since 2011, but scientists have recently realized that the state’s giant sequoia trees were also succumbing to the drought. Dozens of dead sequoias have been observed lately, although seeing dead sequoias still standing used to be a rare event among trees that live thousands of years.
Conservationists Mount Rescue of Endangered Laurel Dace Imperiled By Historic Drought
The Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga), Nov 28, 2016
Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee
The few creeks and tributaries on the Cumberland Plateau have run nearly dry, further threatening the federally endangered Laurel Dace. After watching water levels dwindle, staff from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife rescued as many of the minnows as they could collect on Nov. 22, which wasn’t many. Just 18 Laurel Dace were found.
Drought prompts Tennessee Aquarium to launch rescue of endangered Barrens Topminnows
WTVC NewsChannel9 (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Nov 03, 2016
Sixty-four Barrens Topminnows were salvaged from a Middle Tennessee stream to be housed at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute near downtown Chattanooga.
In eastern Tennessee in the Cherokee National Forest, native Southern Appalachian Brook Trout were moving to deeper pools as the forests’ streams become shallower, slower and warmer.
Drought also triggered a mass die-off of mussels in the Clinch River system of northeastern Tennessee and southwest Virginia because water levels have become very shallow in comparison with wetter months.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
House approves bill on Calif. drought, Flint water
The Washington Post, Dec 08, 2016
The House passed a bill on Dec. 8 including $558 million in drought relief for California. The measure would mean more water for farms and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley and southern California, but Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has vowed to fight the drought measure, saying it puts the interests of big farms ahead of the fishing industry and weakens endangered species protections.
California's new water conservation plan focuses on cities
The Sacramento Bee, Dec 01, 2016
California state water officials worked on a new conservation plan featuring the creation of customized water-use limits for urban water districts and a focus on fixing leaks, which can drain more than 10 percent of processed water. Towns and cities will also be required to create five-year drought contingency plans rather than the three-year plans they presently have. Critics complain that the agricultural sector was not asked to conserve.
Governor raises drought designations; prompting restrictions
WALB (Albany, Ga.), Nov 17, 2016
Gov. Nathan Deal declared 52 counties in northern Georgia to be in Level II Drought Response and, in agreement with the Environmental Protection Division, saw 58 counties in the southern part of the state to be in Level I Drought Response.
12 more counties are under drought emergency status
Times Daily (Florence, Ala.), Nov 15, 2016
Twelve additional Alabama counties entered drought emergency status as drought diminished water supplies in Choctaw, Clarke, Dallas, Marengo, Monroe, Washington, Wilcox, Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw and Escambia counties in the southwestern part of the state. As of mid-November, most of Alabama was in emergency drought status.
TEMA declares state of emergency over drought in Tennessee
Nashville Tennessean, Nov 11, 2016
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a state of emergency, due to continued drought and wildfire threat. Drought has affected more than 300 water systems statewide, allowed wildfires to scorch 6,000 acres and appeared to be holding on through the remainder of 2016.
Society & Public Health
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.
Despite drought, Lyme disease cases came roaring back this fall
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Dec 12, 2016
Despite a lull in tick-borne diseases in Maine earlier in 2016, the number of Lyme disease cases shot up in the fall and could hit record levels before the end of the year. Through, Dec. 5, the count of people who had contracted Lyme disease was up 12 percent, compared to all of 2015, according to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drought causes damage on North Mississippi highways
WMC-TV Action News5 Memphis (Tenn.), Nov 28, 2016
Drought has caused pavement to crumble in northern Mississippi, according to the state Department of Transportation. Large cracks have developed in the asphalt, particularly due to Yazoo clay, which can expand to fill 400 percent more space when it is wet, and, conversely shrink when it’s dry. Trees near roadways can also exacerbate problems by drawing out moisture from the Yazoo clay.
Drought Impact on Mississippi
WTVA (Tupelo, Miss.), Oct 31, 2016
Some Mississippi homes exhibited foundation and wall cracks as drought shifts the state’s soils. Homeowners were urged to wait for rain to see if the cracks close once moisture returns.
Drought causing county road problems
The Dispatch (Columbus, Miss.), Oct 25, 2016
Lowndes County, Mississippi
Drought has left big cracks in Lowndes County’s paved and gravel roads as the soil shifts when it dries. The county road manager stated that it has already cost the county about $60,000 to repair roads in the last four to six weeks. The paving machine is used as much as possible for the fixes, but sometimes crews must patch the roads by hand.
Tourism & Recreation
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.
Blue skies equal a green summer for paddle rentals
New London Day (Conn.), Sep 25, 2016
Connecticut’s hot, droughty summer was great for kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals and also led to brisker sales than usual of outdoor gear. An outfitter in Mystic said that his season was twice as good as 2015 and that paddleboards were hugely popular. Business for an outfitter in North Cornwall was rather mixed, being very, very slow for river trips, with drought dropping river levels, but lake rentals at state parks has been very, very busy, due to the dry weather.
Water Supply & Quality
State officials say concern over drought remains high
Boston Globe and Boston.com (Mass.), Dec 14, 2016
Massachusetts officials have renewed calls for water conservation as the region’s worst drought in decades persisted. Residents were encouraged by the Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton to limit water use, fix indoor leaks and conduct water audits. Although reservoir levels were recovering during a natural recharge period, most reservoirs were still below normal ranges.
California water conservation slips again. Here’s how much
The Sacramento Bee, Dec 06, 2016
Californians conserved 19.5 percent in October, compared with water use during the same month in 2013. The conservation rate was 1.8 percent more than during Oct. 2015 and followed the trend of a gradual increase in water use in past months. Overall, the State Water Resources Control Board was pleased with the savings.
Drought watch issued for entire Delaware River Basin
The Times Herald (Norristown, Pa.), Nov 25, 2016
Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch for the entire Delaware River Basin as the lack of rain continued to take a toll on water supplies. The DEP previously declared drought watches in 26 eastern Pennsylvania counties and drought warnings for six counties. Rainfall has been 75 percent below normal in eastern Pennsylvania in the last 90 days.
New Britain To Begin Buying Water Due To Drought
CBS Connecticut (West Hartford, Conn.), Nov 17, 2016
New Britain, Connecticut
The city of New Britain will begin purchasing water from the Metropolitan District Commission on Dec. 1. The city will buy six and a half million gallons of water daily through the end of December to allow its water supply a chance to recover.
N.J. drinking water supplies continue to shrink as drought woes continue
NJ.com (Newark, N.J.), Nov 17, 2016
Twelve reservoirs in northern New Jersey were collectively hovering around 52 percent of capacity, although their typical storage is about 68 percent in mid-November. A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection recommended that the public conserve.
Drought to intensify in Kenya in 2017, new early warning system shows
Agriculture.com, Dec 13, 2016
A new early warning system indicated that Kenya would not have enough forage in 2017 as drought worsens, putting pastoralists and their livestock at risk. The country endured drought in 2014 and did not receive enough rain in 2015 and 2016 to mount a significant recovery.
Drought-Stricken Southern Madagascar Teeters On The Edge Of Famine
National Public Radio (Washington, D.C.), Dec 05, 2016
The three-year drought gripping Madagascar has pushed half of its population toward famine, requiring immediate humanitarian aid to ward it off, according to United Nations food agencies. Harvests have failed, leaving very little to eat.
NASA Study Finds a Connection Between Wildfires and Drought
NASA Earth News, Jan 10, 2017
A number of factors, including overgrazing, fires and smoke aerosols may be preventing convection and limiting the likelihood of rainfall. Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. used satellite records from 2001 to 2014 to assess the effect of fires on water cycle indicators.
Charles Ichoku, a senior scientist with NASA noted, “There is a tendency for the net influence of fire to suppress precipitation in northern sub-Saharan Africa.”
US Southwest faces threat of megadroughts with rising temps
U.S. News & World Report, Oct 05, 2016
The U.S. Southwest will likely face megadroughts in the future as climate change brings rising temperatures. Those megadroughts will be hotter and more severe, straining water resources, said researchers from Cornell University.
A&M researcher brings the dream to the Texas cotton patch
The Eagle (Bryan-College Station, Texas), Aug 29, 2016
An endophyte microbial coating of the planting seed can, under some conditions, boost the cotton yield by up to 10 percent, discovered researcher Greg Sword, an entomologist with Texas A&M. Nothing else is needed to achieve the production increase—not specialized farming equipment, no GMO technology, etc. Some of the endophytes can reduce pest pressure on cotton, as well as confer water stress resistance.
Plants remember stress to help protect themselves
Phys.org, 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.
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.