Monday, October 24, 2016

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

One word to describe the last water year? Dry
Los Angeles Times, Sep 30, 2016
The last water year, ending in September 2016, was not at all what forecasters said could happen. The El Niño did not bring heavy precipitation to end California’s drought and was more of a disappointment for southern California, but did refill reservoirs in the North.
Putting New England’s Drought in Perspective
UMass Amherst, Sep 19, 2016
“This drought is bad, but it’s not the worst,” said University of Massachusetts Amherst hydrologist David Boutt. “It’s probably not yet in the top five drought periods in New England historically, so we need to keep things in perspective.”
This year’s drought was more pronounced because it occurred during the growing season and came on the heels of a nearly 15- year stretch of above normal precipitation.
Drought grips parts of South, parches ground, withers crops
WSB-TV (Atlanta), Sep 22, 2016
Southeastern U.S.
Drought in the Southeast was most intense in northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia, where crops were affected and fire danger was high. In North Carolina, trees were dropping their leaves earlier than expected. Eastern Tennessee was dry, as was northern Mississippi.
D.C. area is a step away from drought after hot, parched stretch
The Washington Post, Sep 15, 2016
Washington D.C.
Hot, dry weather along the East Coast has created abnormally dry conditions in the southern Washington D.C. area.
Drought recovery still years away
Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.), Sep 09, 2016
The winter of 2015 was the driest in the Sierras in 30-plus years of data and was the fourth consecutive year of dry weather, said researchers with the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. As a result, California may need three more years to recover from drought.


Drought conditions affecting cotton harvest (Huntsville, Ala.), Oct 06, 2016
Northern Alabama

The cotton and corn crop yields in northern Alabama have varied with the patchiness of summer rainfall that helped some areas and missed others.

Dry weather, drought a mixed bag for Northeast vineyards
Associated Press, Oct 05, 2016
Northeastern U.S.
The warm, dry weather of the summer in the Northeast brought smaller grapes and lower yields, but produced more intense flavors. In the Finger Lakes region of New York, yields were down 10 to 40 percent. Conditions were drier than normal in Vermont, but not as dry as points to the south, so the crop fared well and was abundant by some growers’ standards. The president of the New Hampshire Winery Association noted that the crop was incredible, with "high sugar numbers, higher than normal, 25 percent more harvest, more harvest weight."
To the south in Massachusetts, a Lincoln winery saw winter damage to the grape vines, and then drought, which combined, significantly reduced yields, but the fruit was excellent.
Crop diseases were less of a problem, thanks to the dryness.
Drought takes a toll on corn yields in southeastern South Dakota
Tri State Neighbor (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Oct 03, 2016
Southeastern South Dakota
Summer drought dried up pastures in southeastern South Dakota, but September rains revived them and encouraged the growth of cover crops. Corn harvested the week of Sept. 19 near Bridgewater came in at 100 bushels per acre with 22 percent moisture.
One farmer noted, “The drought really took its toll.”
Mild drought pushes back pumpkin season, patches working to catch up
WDTN-TV 2 News (Moraine, Ohio) , Sep 29, 2016
Western Ohio
Drought during the summer slowed pumpkin growth in western Ohio, so the crop was about two weeks behind schedule.
Difficult decisions in store for Georgia dryland peanut producers
Thomasville Times Enterprise (Ga.), Sep 28, 2016
An estimated one-third of Georgia’s dryland peanuts produced very little and were still being ravaged by drought. Some of the peanuts were in such poor shape that it was not worth digging them. The lesser cornstalk borer has been a huge problem, the damage from which can lead to Aspergillus flavus fungus, which often leads to carcinogenic aflatoxin growth. Underground white mold has caused more problems too.

Business & Industry

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.
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.


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.
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.


Hinds County latest to issue burn ban
WAPT-TV ABC 16 Jackson (Miss.), Oct 06, 2016
Dry conditions led to an uptick in wildfire activity in Mississippi with dry, crunchy grass ready to burn. The Mississippi Forestry Commission imposed burn bans for more than two dozen counties and will likely add more to the list.
Fire departments remind you to be careful during dry weather
WREG (Memphis, Tenn.), Oct 04, 2016
Western Tennessee
While there was not a burn ban for Shelby County, fire departments were warning the public to be very careful with fires because the drying conditions increased the risk of the wildfires.
The blaze that won't die: How Monterey County wildfire became one of costliest to fight
Los Angeles Times, Sep 30, 2016
Soberanes fire in Monterey County, California
The Soberanes fire, which has consumed more than 126,000 acres and several dozen homes since it began from an illegal campfire on July 22, continued to burn in very rugged terrain for more than two months. The cost of battling the blaze has risen to $229 million, with about $69 million spent on firefighting equipment.
As Drought Worsens, Wildfire Season Continues
New England Cable News (Newton, Mass.), Sep 13, 2016
New England
The large rain deficit in New England has allowed more fires to burn and lengthened the fire season.
Winslow council temporarily bans fireworks because of drought (Augusta, Maine), Sep 12, 2016
Winslow, Maine
The Winslow town council banned the use of fireworks for the next 90 days due to the dry conditions.

Plants & Wildlife

There are signs of ‘drought stress’ in Vermont
Burlington Free Press (Vt.), Oct 01, 2016
Vermont, New Hampshire
Drought in Vermont led to leaf browning and early color in some trees across the state. Josh Halman, a forest health specialist, and Dan Dillner, a protection forester with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation noted the changes when they surveyed the state’s forests from airplanes over the summer. Increased bear-human conflicts were another issue stemming from the drought as fewer wild blueberries and raspberries existed in the wild for bears to eat, according to Andrew Timmons, bear project leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Bears roam further searching for food during such years.
Heat and drought impacting cooperative trout nurseries in Pennsylvania
Outdoor News (Plymouth, Minn.), Sep 26, 2016
Hot days, warm waters and too little fresh water have led to the deaths of many young trout at the Bald Eagle Sportsmen Club’s co-op and many of the state’s 160 trout nurseries. There will be fewer trout to be stocked and caught in the spring.
BLM hauls water to wild horses in eastern Nevada
Elko Daily Free Press (Nev.), Sep 13, 2016
Eastern Nevada
The Bureau of Land Management Ely District began transporting water to wild horses in the Big Sand Spring Valley area of the Pancake Herd Management Area in early September, to Martilletti Spring on Aug. 30, and to Moody Spring on Sept. 8 as drought impeded spring flows.
Dry weather could shorten New England's fall foliage season
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), Sep 05, 2016
New England’s trees could have duller color or a shortened span of colorful leaves, but hotels were booked full ahead of the fall season, so business people were not concerned. Some eastern Massachusetts trees were unable to grow new leaves after gypsy moth caterpillars chewed leaves on 350,000 acres of trees.
It's still summer, so why are 'autumn' leaves already falling?
KOMO (Seattle, Wash.), Sep 01, 2016
Seattle, Washington
Seattle trees were turning color and losing leaves earlier than normal despite a wet autumn and winter. Summer 2015 was particularly hot, dry and stressful for Seattle’s trees.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

Drought watch issued for part of South Jersey
Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), Oct 05, 2016
New Jersey
The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch for Ocean, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington and Monmouth counties and urges citizens in those counties to voluntarily conserve water.
Drought prompts Maine regulators to investigate impact on drinking water
Bangor Daily News (Maine), Oct 04, 2016
The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously on Oct. 4 to open an inquiry to examine how water utilities should manage responses to drought conditions, including how to define water supply emergencies and how disputes regarding water supply should be resolved.
Drought Advisory Continues For Connecticut
Hartford Courant (Conn.), Sep 14, 2016
The drought advisory for Connecticut remained in effect, as determined by the state Interagency Drought Workgroup. All water customers were urged to voluntarily limit their water use by 10 percent.
Drought Watch Declared for Four More Pennsylvania Counties
Lancaster Farming (Ephrata, Pa.), Sep 09, 2016
The Department of Environmental Protection issued a drought watch declaration for four additional Pennsylvania counties — Chester, Cumberland, Delaware and Philadelphia — due to low stream flows, declining groundwater levels and lack of precipitation.
Georgia EPD Declares Level 1 Drought Response, Encourages Water Conservation
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Sep 09, 2016
Northern Georgia
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division declared 53 counties in the northwestern part of the state to be in a level 1 drought response. Local water providers must begin a public information campaign to inform citizens about drought and conservation.

Society & Public Health

NH drought sufferers resort to water shaming on social media
New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester), Sep 28, 2016
Southern New Hampshire
Many southern New Hampshire residents were airing their frustrations on Facebook about neighbors watering lawns amid the drought. Plaistow, Fremont and Kingston were a few of the communities with active social media users.
High school opens showers for drought victims
Manchester Union Leader (N.H.), Sep 19, 2016
Kingston, New Hampshire
The Kingston High School began allowing people from Fremont, Kingston and Newton to use showers at the school, which was open from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Plaistow Community YMCA on Route 125 has also begun offering use of its showers for people dealing with dry wells.
Despite the drought, some can't say no to green lawns
New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester), Sep 03, 2016
New Hampshire
Pennichuck Corporation, a water provider in southern and central New Hampshire, reported record water use in June and July as outdoor irrigation increased demand. There were 115 community water systems and three towns with water restrictions and bans as drought persisted. In addition to shallow wells having problems, deep wells were in trouble too.
Upside to drought: Fewer deer ticks and fewer cases of Lyme disease
Portland Press Herald (Maine), Aug 19, 2016
Drought in the Northeast has reduced the number of deer ticks, the insects that transmit Lyme disease. The number of Lyme disease cases was lower than the five-year average for the first six months of the year, said the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Two other tick-borne diseases, anaplasmosis and babesiosis, have climbed to record highs in 2016, according to the Maine CDC. It was unclear why the rates of those diseases were high while the population of deer ticks was low.
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.

Tourism & Recreation

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.
Farmington River and tributaries closed to fishing due to drought, heat
The Day (New London, Conn.), Aug 19, 2016
Parts of the West Branch Farmington River and the Farmington River were closed to fishing because drought, heat, low flows and warm water temperatures have stressed the fish. Some fish kills have already occurred, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
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.

Water Supply & Quality

Birmingham Water Works announces Stage-2 drought advisory
WBRC (Birmingham, Ala.), Oct 05, 2016
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham entered a stage 2 drought advisory, due to the ongoing drought and high water demand. Voluntary conservation is requested and outdoor watering is permitted twice weekly on an even/odd schedule.
Water conservation urged in Greenville, parts of Pickens and Anderson counties
Greenville Online S.C.), Oct 05, 2016
Westernmost South Carolina
As the Kewowee-Toxaway River Basin entered level 2 drought status, those depending on Lake Keowee were urged to use less water.
Weaker water conservation numbers prompt fears that California is going back to its old bad habits
Los Angeles Times, Oct 05, 2016
Californians’ rate of water conservation fell for the third straight month in August to 17.7 percent, compared to 27 percent in August 2015, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. The trend was causing concern that relaxed water restrictions were allowing the public to get away from strict conservation.
178 communities implement water restrictions as drought continues
Massachusetts Municipal Association (Boston), Oct 03, 2016
Of the 178 municipalities or water districts in Massachusetts with water restrictions, 85 public water suppliers have restricted outdoor water use to one day or less, 75 have implemented mandatory restrictions, and 18 have voluntary water restrictions.
State Declares Water Supply Emergency For Four Communities In Fairfield County
Hartford Courant (Conn.), Sep 29, 2016
The Connecticut Department of Health issued a 30-day public water supply emergency for Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and New Canaan because water demand decreased little, despite earlier calls for water conservation.


Morocco grain production down 70% on severe drought (Kansas City, Mo.), Oct 07, 2016
A severe drought in Morocco has knocked down grain production by 70 percent, compared to the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Services.
South Africa’s Biggest Water Board to Cut Supply 15% on Drought
Bloomberg, Oct 04, 2016
South Africa
Rand Water, South Africa’s biggest water utility, serving 13 million people in Johannesburg and Pretoria, will cut the water supply by 15 percent as drought persisted.
Turkey wheat production lowered on drought concerns (Kansas City, Mo.), Oct 04, 2016
Turkey’s forecast for wheat production for the 2016-17 year was lowered, due to drought in Central Anatolia and generally low yield. The forecast was 17.25 million tons, down from production of 19.5 million tons in 2015-16.
Venezuela's Guri dam hasn't recovered from drought; electricity rationing may return
UPI, Oct 04, 2016
Venezuela’s rainy season did not end water woes, and Guri Dam was at 262.89 meters in late September. The optimum performance level is 271 meters, but experts do not foresee the dam reaching that level. Electricity rationing may be needed again in 2017 as hydropower production remains low.
Drought conditions hamper grain production in Algeria (Kansas City, Mo.), Oct 03, 2016
Grain production in Algeria dropped 11 percent to 3.3 million tons in 2016-17, down from 4 million tons in 2015-16, according to a recent release from the Algeria Press Service. This is the third straight year drought has affected grain production.


US Southwest faces threat of megadroughts with rising temps
U.S. News & World Report, Oct 05, 2016
Southwestern U.S.
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.
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.


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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