Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
Drought covers just 17% of California, down from 73% three months ago
USA Today, Feb 23, 2017
Potent winter storms have drenched California’s five-year dry spell, leaving just 17 percent of the state in drought. Three months ago, drought affected 73 percent of the state, while one year ago, 95 percent of California was gripped by drought.
Drought no more? California at heaviest snowpack in 22 years
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), Feb 02, 2017
The snow depth in the Sierra Nevada quadrupled in January, according to a manual snow survey performed by state Department of Water Resources hydrologists on Feb. 2. The water content in the 90.3 inches of snow at Phillips Station was 28 inches, a big jump from the 6 inches measured in early January.
Electronic readings from 101 sites in the Sierra Nevada indicated that the snowpack held 31 inches of water, measuring about 173 percent of average for early February.
‘Exceptional drought’ is over in California
The Sacramento Bee, Jan 26, 2017
California’s drought was quickly disappearing with 48.6 percent of the state out of drought, compared to 42 percent the previous week. All the same, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has not declared the state’s drought emergency at an end.
Rains wash away the worst drought conditions in Deep South
Associated Press, Jan 26, 2017
Rain eased drought extending from northern Louisiana to the Carolinas and Virginia, but parts of northeastern Georgia and central Alabama were still affected by patches of extreme drought.
Drought Impacting Cattlemen in Southeast and Plains
Drovers Cattle Network, Feb 10, 2017
Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee
Livestock producers in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee all lament the dry weather and pasture conditions are not what they could be. A producer from Stillwater, Okla. noted that the dryness of the past two months might leave too little moisture for spring planting. Producers in Mississippi do not have enough forage and, in some cases, water, and have had to wean calves early or sell out for lack of options. Some Tennessee producers have sold calves earlier than normal or culled more heavily in the fall to cope with the poor fall grazing and hay production.
Texas Crop and Weather Report — Feb. 7
Bryan-College Station Eagle (Texas), Feb 07, 2017
The unusually warm, dry winter has Texas farmers in parts of the state looking forward to rain to improve pastures and crops. In East Texas, winter pasture was growing slowly, due to the lack of rain. In Far West Texas, not much green forage could be found. In South Texas, warm-season grasses did not green up well, due to the lack of moisture. Coastal Bermuda grass stayed dormant and yellow. The absence of moisture led producers to irrigate wheat, oats, cabbage, spinach, onions, carrots and broccoli.
Late-Season Drought Causes New Year Issues for Producers
GrowingAlabama.com, Jan 27, 2017
The drought led many Alabama farmers to postpone or even skip the planting of winter grazing. Some winter forage was growing well, but other fields were complete failures. Alabama farmers have purchased hay from all over the Southeast to feed livestock.
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.
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.
Governor Fallin issues burn ban for 53 Oklahoma counties
KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City), Feb 10, 2017
Gov. May Fallin announced a two-week burn ban for the eastern two-thirds of Oklahoma due to extreme weather conditions and increasing fire danger. The newly issued ban supersedes all county bans and will expire on Feb. 24. Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, recommended the ban due to current fire activity, wildland fuel conditions and the expectation of continued drought.
This is how the devastating Gatlinburg wildfire erupted overnight
The Washington Post, Nov 29, 2016
About 14,000 people in the Gatlinburg area fled just ahead of the wind-whipped flames, which consumed hundreds of structures. The dry fall left the Southeast parched and ready to burn, as evidenced by wildfires burning in the Great Smoky Mountains in past months. A storm system moving through the region on the evening of Nov. 28 brought strong winds, which brought down trees and power lines and sparked new fires.
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."
Plants & Wildlife
Effects of Drought Continue to Plague Trees across State
WTVY.com (Dothan, Ala.), Feb 13, 2017
Alabama trees continued to die, despite rainfall in December and January, said the Alabama Forestry Commission. The reason for the trees deaths was not clear, but the losses may be significant. The AFC began receiving calls about pine trees of all ages and sizes dying, ranging from seedlings to mature trees. Needles frequently turn brown, as do the pitch tubes, indicating bark beetle infestation. Inspections of the dying trees revealed a variety of pests, including Southern pine beetle, Ips engraver beetle, and black turpentine beetle, or a combination of all three.
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.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
Drought conditions improve in Lehigh Valley
The Morning Call (Allentown, Penn.), Feb 15, 2017
Mifflin and Union counties remained in drought emergency status, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, after the agency updated counties’ drought status. Lehigh, Northampton and six other counties were taken out of drought warning status and were in a drought watch. Fifteen counties, including Berks, Bucks, Monroe and Schuylkill, remained in a drought watch. Eleven counties went from drought watch back to normal status.
Drought watch continues in New York
The Chronicle-Express (Penn Yan, N.Y.), Feb 14, 2017
All of New York remained in a drought watch, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Some parts of the state have precipitation deficits of 16 inches since Nov. 1, 2015.
California retains drought measures, despite wet weather
The Sacramento Bee, Feb 08, 2017
The State Water Resources Control Board opted to keep the water restrictions until spring to see how the rest of winter plays out before making any changes to the restrictions. In the days leading up to the decision, a coalition of lawmakers and water districts pressed for an end to the regulations and the drought emergency, arguing that the public can see that a drought emergency no longer existed.
Report Shows Crop Insurance Saved 21,000 Jobs in 2012 Drought
KITC AM 840 (West Point, Neb.), Feb 01, 2017
Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming
A report by Farm Credit Services of America said that 20,900 jobs in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming were saved by crop insurance during the 2012 drought.
Society & Public Health
Drought May Beckon Bigger West Nile Outbreaks
Health Day (Norwalk, Conn.), Feb 08, 2017
A review of 15 years’ worth of data on West Nile virus infections found that epidemics were larger during drought years, according to research from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“Drought was the dominant weather variable correlated with the size of the West Nile virus epidemics,” stated study author Sara Paull, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz. What was unclear was how drought might be worsening the epidemics.
NASA study says Valley still sinking
KFRE & KMPH-TV Fox 26 & CW 59 (Fresno, Calif.), Feb 08, 2017
San Joaquin Valley, California
New NASA radar satellite maps prepared for the California Department of Water Resources indicate that land in the San Joaquin Valley continued to sink rapidly, endangering state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures.
“The rates of San Joaquin Valley subsidence documented since 2014 by NASA are troubling and unsustainable,” stated DWR Director William Croyle. “Subsidence has long plagued certain regions of California. But the current rates jeopardize infrastructure serving millions of people. Groundwater pumping now puts at risk the very system that brings water to the San Joaquin Valley. The situation is untenable.”
With no assistance in sight, engineer requesting bids for sealing machine
TimesDaily.com (Florence, Ala.), Jan 24, 2017
Colbert County, Alabama
As drought and damage to Colbert County roads continued, the county engineer was getting estimates for a crack sealing machine to repair the cracked roads. The cracking was occurring because clay soil beneath the pavement was shrinking and sifting as it dried. Some of the gaping cracks spanned an inch in width and allowed water to seep into the road’s subgrade. Nearby counties were also experiencing similar problems with road damage.
Recent rainfall has not eased the extent of damage to the roads, and instead, more template deformation was occurring, resulting in more dips in roadways.
Sorry, coffee fiends, prepare to pay more for your java
CBS News, Jan 12, 2017
The J.M. Smucker Co. will be raising prices on its Folger’s and Dunkin’ Donut coffee products in the U.S. because drought has hurt coffee bean production in Brazil and Vietnam Excessive rains and flooding in the last months of 2016 also damaged Vietnam’s crop.
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.
Tourism & Recreation
Corps urges caution on Arkansas reservoir lakes
ArkansasOnline.com (Little Rock, Ark.), Feb 05, 2017
Lakes in northern and western Arkansas were lower than normal, prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to warn recreationists to be careful of shallow waters and objects nearer the water’s surface. Beaver, Bull Shoals, Greers Ferry, Norfork and Table Rock lakes were 5 to 10 feet lower than normal.
Several boat ramps at The Rez closing due to drought conditions
WJTV-TV CBS 12 (Jackson, Miss.), Nov 10, 2016
Barnett Reservoir, Jackson, Mississippi
Several boat ramps at Barnett Reservoir were closed as drought lowered the water level. Some of the ramp closures included Fannin Landing in Rankin County, Brown’s Landing in Madison County and five subdivision ramps.
Drought edges in on outdoor businesses
BlueRidgeNow (Hendersonville, N.C.), Nov 03, 2016
Western North Carolina
Outfitters in western North Carolina have seen slightly fewer customers and have taken fewer people on guided and rafting trips. Fishing was extremely difficult with water levels being so low, said a store manager in Asheville.
Lake Lanier levels drop, other concerns rise
Gainesville Times (Ga.), Oct 23, 2016
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Lake Lanier Association members were warned to move their docks because the level of the lake was down eight feet. Twenty-two boat ramps on the lake were closed, due to low water.
Snowmobile festival trucks in water because of drought
WMUR-TV (Manchester, N.H.), Oct 05, 2016
Fremont, New Hampshire
Water was trucked to Fremont to prepare for Race to Winter, an annual kickoff to winter event, featuring numerous snowmobile races. The water was used to refill three dry swales that normally were replenished by brooks, but, due to drought, were rather dry. The water in the swales cools the snowmobiles' suspension, keeping them from overheating and allowing the snowmobiles to perform stunts.
Water Supply & Quality
Aquarion to recover $10m for drought; ordered to explore alternate-day lawn watering
Danbury News-Times (Conn.), Feb 20, 2017
Aquarion Water Company was given permission by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to recover $9.5 million in drought-related costs from its customers. The utility can hold back credits due customers this year under a 2014 PURA rate settlement imposed to account for IRS deductions recorded by Aquarion for capital spending.
Drought is ‘Not Over’ Says Upper District San Gabriel Valley MWD Official
Arcadia Weekly (Calif.), Feb 16, 2017
San Gabriel Basin, Southern California
Groundwater levels remained far below normal in the San Gabriel Basin, located just east of Los Angeles. Charles M. Trevino, Director Division 2 of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District stated to a local media outlet that the drought, “… is definitely not over.” The Watermaster planned to introduce a new fee to affect all customers in the Main San Gabriel Basin to raise funds to purchase more water to recharge the aquifer.
Dry Conditions Continue; SFWMD Urges Conservation
Santiva Chronicle (Sanibel, Fla.), Feb 09, 2017
Amid extremely dry conditions during South Florida’s dry season, the South Florida Water Management District encouraged residents to increase their water conservation efforts. Water managers were operating the system to conserve as much water as possible. The region had a record-dry November.
California snowpack reaches 173% of average, replenishing a third of state's 'snow-deficit'
Los Angeles Times, Jan 31, 2017
January storms deposited more than 5.7 trillion gallons’ worth of water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, restoring about one-third of the state’s snow-water deficit, according to scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
Satellite and ground sensor data, compared with the historical average, indicated that the past five years of drought deprived the Sierra Nevada of 17 trillion gallons of water in the form of snow. Without the 17 trillion gallons of snowmelt, Californians instead relied heavily on groundwater to make up the difference.
UN: $4.4B needed within weeks to stop hunger 'catastrophe'
Associated Press, Feb 22, 2017
Without donations of $4.4 billion by the end of March, the United Nations will not have the funds to prevent catastrophic hunger and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Just $90 has been offered so far. More than 20 million people risk starvation in the next six months.
Brazil races against time to save drought-hit city, dying crops
Reuters, Feb 17, 2017
The Boqueirao Reservoir was at 4 percent of capacity and has only filthy, smelly, undrinkable water left for the 400,000 residents of Campina Grande. Water has been rationed for two years, and this year’s rainfall is anticipated to be sparse. The government plans to reroute the São Francisco River to help the city and four northeastern states in Brazil.
East Africa drought pushing food prices up sharply
United Nations Radio, Feb 14, 2017
Prolonged drought caused food prices for maize, sorghum and other cereals to nearly double over the past year in some East African countries, said an economist with the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Kenya declares worsening drought a national disaster
The Washington Post, Feb 10, 2017
The government of Kenya declared a national disaster due to the drought gripping large parts of the country. The president requested donations from the international community. Twenty-three out of 47 East African nations were dealing with drought.
Study: Global warming is shrinking river vital to 40M people
The Washington Post, Feb 23, 2017
The volume of the Colorado River has declined more than 19 percent while drought affected the region since 2000, and the precipitation deficit accounts for about two-thirds of the shortfall, said hydrologists Brad Udall of Colorado State University and Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona.
Forests worldwide threatened by drought
EurekAlert! (Washington, D.C.), Feb 22, 2017
Increased drought frequency and severity threatens trees and forests worldwide. Tree species with denser wood and smaller, thicker leaves tend to withstand drought better than other types of trees.
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.
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.