Drought Headlines Archive
Drought Headlines Archive
El Niño likely to be too weak to have big impact on drought
San Francisco Chronicle, Jun 05, 2014
Weak and moderate El Niños do not have a strong correlation with winter weather in Northern California and cannot be counted on to deliver drought-ending snowfall next winter. Moderate El Niños usually result in wetter winters in Southern California. It remains to be seen how strong the developing El Niño may turn out to be.
Drought Eases in Plains, Northwest
Farm Futures (St Charles, Ill.), Feb 27, 2014
Drought intensified in California and parts of the southern Great Plains, but improved in the Northwest.
USDA: Wheat crop reduced by drought but corn crop best in years and soybean planting advancing
Rapid City Journal (S.D.), Jun 11, 2014
The U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its wheat production estimate downward as drought continued to hurt winter wheat in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas since the last crop report. Winter wheat production was estimated to be 1.38 billion bushels or two percent lower than the May estimate and 10 percent lower than last year. The estimate for hard red winter wheat, used for bread-making, was 720 million bushels, or 3 percent lower than last month.
Drought driving organic dairy exodus
Dairy Herd Management (Lenexa, Kan.), May 31, 2014
San Joaquin Valley in California
Organic dairy herds in the West, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, were shrinking because drought has driven farmers to sell their herds and quit the dairy business, according to the USDA’s Dairy Market News. Net gains from a year of organic milking brought in less than selling the cattle for slaughter.
Kansas wheat condition declines as drought endures
The Topeka Capital-Journal (Kan.), May 20, 2014
Some Kansas cattle producers have turned their cattle out into failed wheat fields since pasture grasses were short. Fifty-nine percent of the winter wheat was in poor to very poor condition, 29 percent was fair, while just 11 percent was considered to be in good condition and 1 percent was excellent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Beef prices spur thoughts of growth
The Durango Herald (Colo.), May 13, 2014
A pound of beef sold for an average retail price of $5.72 in March, a record high, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Business & Industry
Water woes force big brewers to tighten the tap
The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), Jun 11, 2014
Texas, California & Colorado
MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have cut back on the amount of water used to produce their beer as drought and wildfires jeopardize water supplies. Since 2012, MillerCoors cut its water use 9.2 percent and has focused its water saving-efforts on Texas, California and Colorado. The company uses sensors to release the right amount of water for irrigation, planting native grasses to limit erosion and runoff and watching for leaky machinery in its breweries.
Ethanol plants’ profits 2nd-highest on record
Des Moines Register (Iowa), Mar 17, 2014
The average ethanol plant in the U.S. lost $7.3 million in 2012, due to high corn prices as drought reduced corn production, according to a study by the University of Illinois. Many plants closed or cut back on ethanol production. The average profit for ethanol plants between 2007 and 2013 was $7.4 million.
Improved corn production in 2013 sent corn prices lower, leading to the second highest year of average profit for ethanol plants at $23 million.
Abundant 2013 corn harvest boosts ethanol production
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dec 13, 2013
After drought cut into ethanol production in 2012 and 2013, production finally gained steam in mid-October 2013 with lower priced corn and rich supplies.
California may rely on more gas-fired generation due to drought
Reuters, Jan 10, 2014
With less water stored in California reservoirs, less hydropower will likely be produced in the state in 2014, leading to greater reliance on natural gas-fired power production.
In 2011, hydropower accounted for an above average 21.3 percent and natural gas was used for 45.4 percent of in-state electricity production. In 2012, dry conditions in California shifted the balance to 13.8 percent hydropower and 61.1 percent gas-fired generation. Hydropower is cheaper than gas-fired power.
Colorado River Hydropower Faces a Dry Future
IEEE Spectrum (New York, New York), Sep 19, 2013
Drought has lessened the flow through the Colorado River Basin, limiting hydropower generation at dams in the Southwest. At Hoover Dam, five new wide-head turbines are being installed to keep the power plant functioning as water levels decline in Lake Mead. Full capacity power production at Hoover Dam is 2,074 megawatts, but low water levels diminished production to 1,735 MW in August for a decline of just over 8 percent. Power production at Glen Canyon Dam in 2014 is expected to be down by 8 percent.
With the Colorado River providing less water, resulting in reduced hydropower production, the Western Area Power Administration will shell out an estimated $10 million to purchase power supplies in 2014.
Gavins Point Dam releases again set lower
Omaha.com (Nebraska), Sep 08, 2013
Upper Missouri River
Water releases from Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River will be at a minimum, due to ongoing drought in the northern Great Plains. From December through February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release an average of nearly 12,000 cubic feet per second. Winter releases are usually about 17,000 cfs or higher.
Hydropower production at the six mainstem power plants on the upper Missouri River has been low in 2013. Normal power production is 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, but is projected to be just 7.6 billion kilowatt hours this year.
Low water season draws concerns for summer energy
KTVB.COM (Boise, Idaho), Jun 18, 2013
Officials with Idaho Power are reducing flows in the Snake River to 65,000 cubic feet per second below Hells Canyon Dam to have sufficient water on hand to generate power during the summer when the power demand is highest. Flows on the Snake River are nearing historic lows, forcing some in the Treasure Valley near Boise, Idaho to go without irrigation water, while others may be denied water in the near future.
California drought: Firefighters, residents bracing for long fire season
Contra Costa Times (Calif.), Mar 14, 2014
Since the start of the year, 750 California wildfires have charred more than 4,000 acres, compared to just over 200 wildfires during the same time span in 2013. The fire season usually starts in June, but dry conditions have Cal Fire and the U.S. Department of Forestry monitoring brush moisture levels, hiring seasonal firefighters and embarking on public awareness campaign months ahead of schedule.
Plants & Wildlife
Lawless weeds causing a calamity in Colorado
USA Today, Jun 12, 2014
Crowley and Pueblo counties declared states of emergency to pave the way for state assistance in dealing with a plague of tumbleweeds. The weeds grew abundantly in late August and early September 2013 when rains fell, but drought had stifled grass growth, allowing the Russian thistles to thrive. Cattle would normally eat the tumbleweed, but drought has forced ranchers to sell many of their livestock, leaving too few animals to keep the tumbleweed in check.
Northern California bat population declining amid drought conditions
Fox News, Apr 17, 2014
More dead and dying bats than usual are being found in Northern California. Bats feed on aquatic insects and insects that spend a portion of their lives in water, stated the founder of Northern California Bats. Drought may have reduced the insect population to the extent that bats cannot find enough insects to eat because fewer agricultural fields were irrigated or flooded, providing a water source for the insects.
Tumbleweeds plague drought-stricken American West
Reuters, Mar 27, 2014
Southeastern Colorado, parts of New Mexico and Texas panhandle
Ongoing drought brought about the proliferation of tumbleweeds in southeastern Colorado, parts of New Mexico and the Texas panhandle.
Rainfall in September 2013 spurred the growth of the Russian thistles, which grew well with little moisture in places where much of the native vegetation was sparse or had died from the drought. There were also fewer cattle in many areas as drought led ranchers to sell livestock, leaving fewer ruminants to nibble on the Russian thistle shoots.
The tumbleweeds are abundant in many areas, blocking roads and drainage culverts and piling up against fences and homes.
California Drought Has Salmon Hitching Rides in Trucks
Bloomberg, Mar 25, 2014
Thirty million young Chinook salmon were being trucked from a federal fish hatchery in Anderson to San Pablo Bay, 180 miles to the south to be released because drought has left the water in the Sacramento River and its tributaries too warm and shallow for the fish to make the trip on their own.
Relief, Response, & Restrictions
Governor Brown Issues Executive Order To Redouble State Drought Actions
Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. (Calif.), Apr 25, 2014
Governor Brown issued an executive order to bolster the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively during drought and urged all residents and businesses to strive for greater water conservation.
The order also streamlines contracting rules for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and CALFIRE for equipment purchases and enables landowners to quickly clear brush and dead, dying or diseased trees that increase fire danger.
The governor also ordered other actions be taken to cope with continuing drought.
Drought bill targets homeowner association rules
News10 (Sacramento, Calif.), Apr 03, 2014
A bill in the California legislature would protect people in homeowner associations from reprisal if they choose to curb water use for landscaping, putting their yards out of compliance with associations’ standards. Despite the drought, some homeowners’ associations still demand that members maintain lush lawns and penalize people who allow lawns to die.
Congress Focuses On Dams Amid California’s Drought
CBS13 (Sacramento, Calif.), Mar 23, 2014
The drought in California has federal lawmakers looking to create or expand several reservoirs to bolster the water supply. Government agencies have been considering five major water storage projects for nearly 20 years, and the current drought has renewed interest in creating more water storage.
Gov. Brown Signs Off On $687 Million Drought Plan For California
CBS San Francisco, Mar 01, 2014
Gov. Brown signed the drought legislation, allowing thirsty communities, farmers with fallowed fields and unemployed farmworkers to access emergency aid. The plan includes $472 million in accelerated grant funding for water conservation and recycling projects and $15 million for food and housing for those unemployed, due to drought.
Governor Perry Extends Drought Declaration
Myhighplains.com (Amarillo, Texas), Feb 17, 2014
The governor of Texas initially made the drought declaration on July 5, 2011 and has extended it since then as drought continued.
Society & Public Health
Conservation prevents repeat Dust Bowl
Wichita Falls Times Record News (Texas), May 12, 2014
Southern Great Plains
Modern irrigation and farming techniques help keep the soil in place, but persistent drought in the Southern Plains has increased the number of days with dust storms.
Dust blamed for fatal car accident in central Kansas
The Topeka Capital Journal (Kansas), Apr 29, 2014
Great Bend, Kansas
In central Kansas, a 30-year old man collided with a stopped semi-trailer truck, which had stopped due to other accidents, blowing dust and poor visibility on U.S. 56. As authorities tried to reach the site of the accident, visibility was zero, prompting them to close the highway from Great Bend to Pawnee Rock.
Emergency food aid arrives in Central Coast counties in May
KION (Salinas, Calif.), Apr 22, 2014
The California Department of Social Services announced that shipments of food assistance will be provided to numerous counties because these counties have high unemployment rates and a high proportion of agricultural workers. The first shipment of five $5 million installments of aid will provide prepackaged boxes of nutritionally balanced, nonperishable food in early May.
Sneeze, wheeze, allergies: Valley's drought making it worse
The Fresno Bee (Calif.), Apr 17, 2014
Central Valley, California
Central Valley pollen counts typical of April were already present in February as drought drove up pollen levels. The allergy season may also last longer than usual as drought causes grasses and trees to pollinate longer.
Beef prices hit all-time high in U.S.
Los Angeles Times, Apr 08, 2014
The retail price for “all fresh” USDA choice-grade beef hit a record $5.28 per pound in February, compared to $4.91 one year ago. Consumers paid $3.97 for the same grade of beef in 2008. Years of drought are to blame for the rising beef prices.
Tourism & Recreation
Diablo Grande’s Legends golf course falls victim to the drought
The Modesto Bee (Calif.), Mar 21, 2014
Diablo Grande plans to close its Legends 18-hole golf course in April or May when the condition of the grass deteriorates from the lack of water. The resort area has restrictions on water use, expects to pay higher water rates as the community buys extra water for an estimated $1,300 to $2,500 per acre-foot and is striving to reduce their water use to about one-third of normal.
California's Springtime Wonders Struck by Drought
LiveScience (New York, N.Y.), Feb 25, 2014
Horsetail Fall and Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park have been dry for most of February. Horsetail Fall flows in the winter and early spring as snow melts, but this year the flow has been negligible until storms brought enough precipitation to bring the fall back to life.
Drought drives down ski business, discourages snow lovers
Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb 12, 2014
The lack of snow is hampering business at ski resorts in northern New Mexico. Pajarito Mountain Ski Area suspended operations, snow mobile tours around Red River have to travel an hour to get to the snow, but Ski Santa Fe is 95 percent open.
Drought hits ski towns hard
CNN Money, Feb 07, 2014
Northern California, Oregon and Idaho
Numerous small ski resorts in northern California, Oregon and Idaho have not received enough snow to be able to open, resulting in revenue losses not only for the ski resorts, but also for local hotels, restaurants and bars.
Local rivers closed to fishing by state
The Salinas Californian, Jan 29, 2014
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed some rivers and streams to fishing in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties to protect salmon and steelhead populations while river flows are low. The CDFW is also considering additional river closures, including sections of the American River and Russian River.
Water Supply & Quality
11th-hour pause to water limits
The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon), Jun 13, 2014
Oregon water masters were considering demands from Klamath Basin farmers and the Klamath Tribes in enforcing senior water rights as drought limits the availability of water, said a spokesperson for the Oregon Water Resources Department. The city of Klamath Falls was ordered to shut down two municipal drinking water wells to leave more water for the Klamath Reclamation Project, serving 1,200 farmers along the Oregon-California border. But Klamath Falls intends to fight the well closure order because state law holds human consumption needs as a higher priority than irrigation, according to the city manager.
Study Finds Medical Pot Farms Draining Streams Dry
CBS13 (Sacramento, Calif.), Jun 01, 2014
Marijuana growers in Northern California’s coastal forests were taking so much water from the area’s rivers and streams that they have virtually gone dry. Drought, on top of heavy water use for the water-intensive crop, has made the problem more apparent.
California orders thousands of Sacramento Valley water users to stop pumping from streams
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), May 29, 2014
The California Water Resources Board ordered 2,648 Sacramento Valley water agencies and users with junior water rights to stop withdrawing water from the American, Feather and Yuba rivers and numerous streams. Those affected are mainly farmers and large irrigation districts, but the city of Sacramento also must stop taking water from the Sacramento River because the city has junior water rights in that river. Sacramento does have senior water rights for the American River.
Similar water cuts were last ordered in 1977.
Drought's upside? Better water quality at beaches, report says
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2014
Ninety-five percent of California beaches received grades of A or B for water quality during the summer of 2013 when there was little rain to wash pollutants to the sea. This represents a 2 percent improvement over 2012, according to the annual Beach Report Card by Heal the Bay, an environmental group.
Nearly 20 Texas towns could run out of water in 90 days
Houston Chronicle (Texas), May 20, 2014
More than 30 small Texas water suppliers could be out of drinking water within 45 to 90 days, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which assures the public that water will be brought in if faucets go dry. There are 11 water suppliers, providing water to about 8,600 businesses and residential connections that have less than 45 days’ worth of water. Twenty-one other suppliers have less than 90 days’ worth left.
Voluntary water restrictions were in effect in 387 water systems, while mandatory water restrictions governed water use in 778 water systems.
Drought headaches in Brazil's WCup opener city
Bloomberg Businessweek, May 28, 2014
. A local water company for Sao Paulo reduces water pressure between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to conserve water, but this has the effect of depriving the city’s poor—living at higher elevations—of water. The poorer people fear that water will be directed to more affluent neighborhoods at lower elevations where tourists will be staying during the World Cup, which began on June 12.
Drought and conflict in Syria cut cereal production by over half
United Nations Radio (New York), May 15, 2014
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated Syria’s wheat and barley production to be about 2 million tons and 350,000 tons, respectively, which is about half of the average for the past 10 years.
Can planners stop drought harming the tourist dollar?
environmentalresearchweb (Bristol, U.K.), Nov 18, 2013
Tourism and recreation industry representatives should be involved in drought preparedness activities for the benefit of the state and the tourist/recreation industry.
Drought Headlines Archive
Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter
The Sacramento Bee (California), Nov 11, 2013
Cloud seeding will continue to be used in California during the 2013-14 winter to boost snowfall and increase water supplies in a state that has endured two years of drought. Cloud-seeding efforts in California began more than 60 years ago and involve the spraying of silver iodide into clouds.
USDA study shows benefits of weaning calves early
Drovers Cattle Network (Lenexa, Kansas), Aug 29, 2013
Weaning calves early during drought allows cows to gain more weight and achieve better body condition than cows with nursing calves. Consequently, less harvested feedstuffs were needed for cows to maintain adequate body weights and condition during the winter.
USDA Recommends New Practice to Combat Drought
WIUM-FM Tri States Public Radio (Macomb, Illinois), Aug 27, 2013
The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service says that drain water management techniques can help farmers cope with drought as they regulate how much water is allowed to drain from a field. A device can be attached to the ends of tile lines to act as a valve to keep needed moisture from draining away.
FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: Cover crops boost yield in dry years
The Quincy Herald-Whig (Ill.), Aug 21, 2013
The use of cover crops boosted agricultural output in drought-stricken areas in 2012. In the fall of 2012 from a survey of more than 750 farmers in the Midwest, corn crops planted after cover crops yielded 9.6 percent more corn in comparison with side-by-side fields without cover crops. Soybean yields were 11.6 percent higher following cover crops.
In the driest parts of the Corn Belt, the differences were even more striking, with an 11 percent increase in yield for corn and a 14.3 percent yield increase for soybeans.