Saturday, May 28, 2016

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought Headlines Archive

Drought Headlines Archive

General Awareness

It’s official: the “dry spell” is now a “drought”
WHNT News 19 (Huntsville, Ala.), May 26, 2016
Tennessee Valley
North Alabama, Tennessee, and North Georgia entered moderate drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor issued on May 26.
Drought be Dammed
ProPublica (New York), May 20, 2016
The West
Dams in the dry West were constructed to supply water and generate power, but have not proven to be the silver bullets they were thought to be.
El Nino weakens, here comes La Nina, meteorologists say
Associated Press, Apr 14, 2016
California, Southwestern U.S.
There is a 70 percent chance that, after El Niño dissipates, a La Nina will develop in the fall, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. Prediction center deputy director Mike Halpert said that it will likely mean dry weather for the U.S. Southwest and parts of California.
Drought Conditions Expand in the Plains (Abilene, Texas), Mar 31, 2016
Southern Great Plains

Drought has expanded in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the past week.

Drought Conditions Improve in Northern, Central California
KNBC-TV NBC 4 Los Angeles, Mar 17, 2016
Recent storms improved the drought in California, filling reservoirs and deepening snowpack in the mountains. About 93 of the state remained in moderate or worse drought, in comparison with 97 percent one week ago.


Economic losses in California ag will continue
Ag Professional (Lenexa, Kan.), May 27, 2016
California farmers and agribusinesses could lose up to $1.5 billion during the 2016 growing season due to ongoing drought, according to a report from CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. California’s water regulators were expected to implement water restrictions for agriculture for the foreseeable future.
The report forecast a loss of 5 percent to 7 percent net cash income for the state’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.
Drought hits honey production hard; 34% drop
Daily Democrat (Woodland, Calif.), Apr 14, 2016
California honey production was down 34 percent in 2015 to 8.3 million pounds, due to drought and poor forage for the bees. The value of the California honey was an estimated $16.8 million, down $8.9 million from 2014.
Drought Fueling Concerns for Wheat Crop Potential
ProFarmer (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Apr 05, 2016
Great Plains
Developing drought in southern Kansas and Oklahoma, surrounded by a broad swath of abnormal dryness, could limit winter wheat crop production.
Much of Kansas is dry or in drought
Hays Daily News (Kansas), Mar 31, 2016
Wheat in southwestern Kansas was showing drought stress, according to a meteorologist based in Dodge City.
Will the spring run dry in Oklahoma? (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Mar 20, 2016
Roger Mills County, Oklahoma
Wheat in Roger Mills County was slightly discolored from a lack of soil moisture, according to the county's cooperative extension agent. The wheat was starting to come out of dormancy, but little rain has fallen in months to provide topsoil moisture.

Business & Industry

California craft beer brewers balance drafts and drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), Oct 11, 2015
As California communities strive to meet their water conservation goals, those communities also ask businesses, including craft beer brewers, to slash water use. While larger breweries might have the capital to increase water use efficiency, smaller ones in many cases do not.
Losing Water, California Tries to Stay Atop Economic Wave
The New York Times, Aug 19, 2015
Continued economic growth requires building more homes, creating new jobs and drawing in more people, but it is not clear that water supplies will be able to meet demand. Some see drought as being cyclical, while other view it as the new normal, leading to conflicting perspectives on new development.
California drought brings a golden lining
The Sacramento Bee, Jun 22, 2015
Sierra Nevada, California
Low water levels in California’s drought-sapped rivers and streams have exposed more riverbed for prospectors seeking gold. Some stretches have become too dry for panning and sluicing, but in the meantime, prospectors keep finding new areas rich with gold. Hardware and mining supply stores from Columbia in Tuolumne County to Auburn in Placer County benefited from the renewed interest of locals and tourists hoping to find a few pieces of gold.
Bottled-water business grows during drought
Redding Record Searchlight (Calif.), May 10, 2015
Californians were becoming increasingly outraged at companies bottling and selling the state’s water amid a four year drought. Crystal Geyser Water Co. was opening a plant at the base of Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County and intends to take up to 365,000 gallons of groundwater daily, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nearby residents worry that the plant will run their wells dry.
California pool, hot tub filling bans have industries steaming
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), May 10, 2015
Bay Area pool builders and hot tub retailers were struggling to keep customers from cancelling construction contracts as water restrictions and intense drought deter people from using water. Contractors have also had to find new sources of water to fill the pools, given that water restrictions prohibit the use of potable water for pool and hot tub filling.


Group Claims the Drought is Driving Up California Electric Rates
Power Talk 1360 (Modesto, Calif.), Feb 10, 2016
The Pacific Institute has noted a relationship between drought and rising electric rates and produced a report on the topic.
In Parched California, a Farmer’s Market Is Emerging for Power
The Washington Post with Bloomberg, Sep 03, 2015
California farmers were pumping more water for crop irrigation amid a fourth year of drought and were using hundreds of millions of dollars more electricity than normal to power the pumps. In the Central Valley, farmers may use groundwater to meet more than 60 percent of their irrigation needs in 2015, one-third more than a normal year, At that rate, electric bills would rise 77 percent, or $600 million, compared to a year with normal precipitation.
California First To Feel Hydro-Power Crunch Of Drought
CBS2/KCAL9 (Studio City, Calif.), Mar 21, 2015
During the past three years, declining hydropower production in California cost utility customers $1.4 billion as power from alternate sources, such as natural gas-fired plants, was purchased to compensate for reduced hydroelectric production. The use of more fossil fuels also drove California carbon dioxide emissions up 8 percent.
Hydropower production at Lake Mead in May is expected to dip to 50 percent of mid-2014 levels.
California ISO: Challenging 2014 Summer but Reliability Held Firm
Reuters, Oct 20, 2014
Drought curbed California hydropower production this summer by 1,628 megawatts.
Drought Shutters Hydro Power Generation
KOLO-TV (Reno, Nev.), Jul 30, 2014
Western Nevada
Three hydropower plants belonging to the Truckee Meadows Power Authority were shutting down because there was not enough water to keep the plants operating. The plants will probably be able to generate hydropower again in January or February.


Washington preparing as wildfire season starts early
The Spokesman-Review (Wash.), May 22, 2016
Washington state
A sudden, early start to Washington’s fire season occurred in Snohomish County on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. The warm, dry April that melted snowpack and dried out the landscape has firefighters fearing another season of intense fire activity. The past two years were the two worst fire seasons in the state’s history.
Fire threat heightened as drought extends into summer months
KHON2 (Honolulu), May 13, 2016
More than 10,000 acres have already burned in Hawaii, and drought has primed the landscape for additional fires.
Hundreds of Goats Recruited to Eat Brush by a California Fire Department
ABC News, May 12, 2016
Ventura County, California
The Ventura County Fire Department enlisted the assistance of more than 450 goats to clear away dry brush on a Simi Valley hillside to reduce the amount of potential fuel for a fire. Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said, “We still have this dead, decadent brush as a result of the years of drought.”
El Niño rains added fuel to California's upcoming fire season, experts say
Los Angeles Times, May 05, 2016
California’s winter precipitation encouraged the growth of grasses and new vegetation that is drying out and could fuel this year’s wildfires. Some areas have thicker, taller grass than locals have seen in quite a while. Bark beetles also have killed many drought-stressed trees, adding to the available fuel.
Hawaii, Alaska, Southwest face increased danger of wildfires
Honolulu Star Advertiser, May 01, 2016
Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest
Parts of Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest could see above-normal fire activity from May throughout the summer as dry weather increases the fire danger.

Plants & Wildlife

US agency's Nevada boss urges roundup of 4,000 mustangs
The Sacramento Bee, May 02, 2016
Elko County, Nevada
U.S. Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director John Ruhs would like to round up 4,000 wild horses in Elko County because the drought-affected rangeland was deteriorating, but the agency does not have the funds for such a round up. Apart from the large roundup, it was unlikely that he could lift livestock grazing restrictions in the northeast corner of Nevada. The mustangs were on four herd-management areas covering over 600 square miles.
US absorbed carbon dioxide despite drought
Phys.Org (Douglas, Isle Of Man, United Kingdom), Apr 25, 2016
The 2012 drought did not turn the U.S. into a net carbon source, as occurred during Europe’s hot summer in 2003, but the country continued to be a carbon sink. As it turns out, the warm spring prompted vegetation to begin growing earlier, thus absorbing more carbon.
Lake Tahoe-Truckee bear activity driven by severe drought
Sierra Sun (Truckee, Calif.), Mar 25, 2016
Near Lake Tahoe in Nevada
As drought persisted in Nevada, the harm became more apparent as the number of bears killed each year rose. In 2011, three bears were hit and killed by vehicles; in 2012, nine bears died; in 2013, 18 bears died in collisions; and in 2015, the count rose to 21 bears, according to the public information office for Nevada Dept. of Wildlife.
Troubled waters: California salmon season facing big restrictions
San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 15, 2016
California, northern Oregon, Washington
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is aiming to protect chinook salmon by cutting the number of locations and times that commercial salmon fishers can fish. The council will look over three proposals and make a final decision about closures in April before the salmon season opens on May 1. Regulations on salmon fishing in Oregon and Washington state could be much more stringent than in California because one proposal called for the complete closure of the commercial salmon season in Washington and northern Oregon.
CDFW Monitors Effect of Severe Drought on Wildlife
Imperial Valley News (Calif.), Mar 10, 2016
The greatest concentrations of drought-affected animals are found in Southern California coastal, mountain and valley regions, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Mojave Desert, Central Valley and the southern Cascade mountain range. Numerous amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal populations that rely on freshwater marsh, streamside habitat and wet meadows are struggling to survive amid the years-long drought.

Relief, Response, & Restrictions

California drops mandatory water cutbacks for cities and towns
San Francisco Chronicle (, May 18, 2016
California’s emergency water conservation mandates, requiring conservation of 8 to 36 percent, in comparison with water use in 2013, were dropped by the State Water Resources Control Board, in favor of allowing individual water districts to determine appropriate levels of conservation for their customers. Water providers must, however, ensure that they have three years’ worth of water in reserve, and, if not, adopt water-savings targets to have a three-year supply.
A number of statewide conservation measures were extended. Residents, for example, must not allow water runoff when irrigating their lawns, wash cars without a shut-off nozzle or use potable water in a fountain or to wash off pavement. Restaurants must continue the practice of serving water only when customers request it. Hotels must also give guests the opportunity to reuse sheets and towels.
California drought rules eased significantly
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), May 09, 2016
California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order on May 9, leaving the emergency drought regulations in effect indefinitely and telling water providers to prepare for a drier future. Some of the emergency rules include not being able to wash off pavement with potable water or watering lawns within 48 hours of a rainstorm.
Gov. Brown’s administration also announced plans to do away with all statewide mandatory water conservation targets with took effect in June 2015. The State Water Resources Control Board was expected to approve the change at an upcoming May 18 meeting. Water districts will likely be able to set their own water conservation targets, which must be reported to state officials. Water suppliers must also devise drought plans.
L.A.'s water wasters will soon face heavier fines and audits
Los Angeles Times, Apr 27, 2016
Los Angeles, California
Residents of Los Angeles will be facing the possibility of higher fines and water audits if they use excessive amounts of water after Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a new water conservation plan, which will take effect on May 2. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will be able to fine customers from $1,000 to $40,000 per month for what it considers “unreasonable use” of water while L.A. is in an elevated phase of its emergency drought plan.
Valley communities get lower state water conservation goals
The Fresno Bee, Apr 07, 2016
The State Water Resources Control Board announced new water conservation goals for water suppliers seeking a reprieve from the previous high targets. The water board took into consideration population growth, climate and development of drought-resistant supplies, such as recharge from water recycling plants or desalination, in calculating the new conservation goals.
Obama seeks more coordination on dealing with drought
Associated Press, Mar 21, 2016
President Obama issued a presidential memorandum and separate action plan on March 21, directing the federal government to devise a more proactive, long-term approach to dealing with drought. Some of the goals the president set forth are to increase sharing of information about drought risks with state, regional, tribal and local authorities and to improve coordination of federal drought-related activities.

Society & Public Health

Rescued elephant delivers calf at Dallas Zoo
CBS News, May 24, 2016
Dallas, Texas
An elephant evacuated from Swaziland in southern Africa birthed a 175-pound male calf. His weight was on the low side because his mother could not find enough food while in Swaziland.
Casino magnate Wynn envisions water paradise in dry Nevada
The Washington Post, May 25, 2016
Las Vegas
A Las Vegas casino magnate’s idea for a water park has not been received with enthusiasm in the desert city where water is scarce. The Paradise Park development proposal revealed by Wynn Resorts in April would center on a 38-acre, man-made lake built on the site of an 18-hole golf course. Steve Wynn, the CEO of Wynn Resorts, said the park would be an amenity paid for by the resorts fee on hotel rooms at his Wynn and Encore properties, in addition to a new 1,000-room hotel tower. Others would pay a $20 to $30 entrance fee to enjoy the festive “lunacy.”
Swimmer, boaters advised to be extra cautious at Percy Priest Lake
WSMV-TV Nashville, May 20, 2016
North central Tennessee
Meager rainfall in recent months dropped the level of Percy Priest Lake by about three feet, so boaters and swimmers ought to exercise caution while recreating in the lake.
Dry winter means more dust storm danger in Arizona, beyond (Phoenix), May 19, 2016
The Southwest is likely to see more haboobs than usual when the monsoon season begins, thanks to drought and the past dry winter. In the past few weeks, Interstate 10 in southern Arizona has been closed seven times, due to dust storms.
Oregon county says no to Nestle water-bottling plant
The Seattle Times (Wash.), May 17, 2016
Cascade Locks, Oregon
Drought was one of several factors that led Hood River County voters to decide against Nestle building a water bottling plant in Cascade Locks.

Tourism & Recreation

As Lake Powell recedes, Glen Canyon reveals its secrets
Durango Herald (Colo.), Apr 13, 2016
Lake Powell in southern Utah
Lake Powell was at 104 feet below full pool, which allows hikers to access areas not seen since before the Glen Canyon Dam was constructed in the 1950s.
Upper Big Falls in San Bernardino National Forest closed as rescues more than triple
Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2015
A seven-acre area around Upper Big Falls in the San Bernardino National Forest was closed by the park on Oct. 8 because too many climbers have chosen to scale the face of the falls and needed to be rescued.
Skiers, resorts cast hopeful eye toward El Niño
Los Angeles Times, Oct 02, 2015
California ski resorts, hoping to sell plenty of season passes, were hedging their bets by offering incentives, such as discounts or guarantees, if deep powder does not materialize this winter as in past winters. At some resorts, for instance, skiers can get discounts on next year’s season pass if the skier is unable to ski more than a certain number of days this winter.
Drought forces cancellation of Lake Elsinore Grand Prix
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), Aug 20, 2015
Riverside County, California
The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, scheduled for November, was canceled for lack of water. Due to mandated water conservation, the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District cannot provide the roughly 1 million gallons of potable water needed to rebuild and maintain the racetrack and control dust. The district offered recycled water, but there were not enough access points to distribute the water to meet the Grand Prix’s needs.
California drought hasn't killed summer vacations
San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), Aug 09, 2015
Despite years of drought, travel spending continued to climb 3.6 percent in 2014 to $117.5 billion. This year was also on track to be another great year, despite boat ramps, swimming and picnic areas being closed at some lakes.

Water Supply & Quality

The Winter Was Wet, but California Could Get Thirsty Again
The New York Times, May 27, 2016
Near-normal snowfall allowed the lifting of mandatory water restrictions in California, but a depleted Lake Mead and the possible advent of a La Nina could reverse the state’s water fortunes and lead to the return of statewide water restrictions.
California to dismiss $1.4M fine against irrigation district
San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2016
The State Water Resources Control Board recommended dropping a $1.4 million fine against the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, levied last summer when the group of Central Valley farmers was accused of taking water to which they were not entitled. The board also favored dropping a civil suit against the West Side Irrigation District. The full water board must approve the dismissals before they become final.
Lake Mead at Lowest Level on Record, 37% Capacity
Arizona Public Media (Tucson), May 20, 2016
Lake Mead on Nevada/Arizona border
Lake Mead fell to 1,074.68 feet above sea level on May 18, its lowest level since the dam was constructed in 1936. The reservoir is expected to drop to near 1,070 feet by the end of June and rebound to higher levels by the end of December.
A Glass Half Full
Baker City Herald (Ore.), May 16, 2016
Baker County in northeastern Oregon
For the fourth consecutive year, Phillips Reservoir will not fill. Precipitation was 40 percent of normal in March and April and was lagging for May, as well.
California drops mandatory water cutbacks for cities and towns
San Francisco Chronicle (, May 18, 2016
California’s emergency water conservation mandates, requiring conservation of 8 to 36 percent, in comparison with water use in 2013, were dropped by the State Water Resources Control Board, in favor of allowing individual water districts to determine appropriate levels of conservation for their customers. Water providers must, however, ensure that they have three years’ worth of water in reserve, and, if not, adopt water-savings targets to have a three-year supply.
A number of statewide conservation measures were extended. Residents, for example, must not allow water runoff when irrigating their lawns, wash cars without a shut-off nozzle or use potable water in a fountain or to wash off pavement. Restaurants must continue the practice of serving water only when customers request it. Hotels must also give guests the opportunity to reuse sheets and towels.


Nearly three million people need food aid in drought-hit Central America: U.N.
Reuters, May 27, 2016
Central America
About 2.8 million people in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras need food aid to survive as two years of drought has devastated crops and intensified hunger among the poorer people in Central America, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The region has endured prolonged dry spells related to El Niño since mid-2014.
More than half of Malawi's population need food relief - minister
Reuters, May 25, 2016
Malawi’s minister of agriculture announced that more than half of the country’s population, or about 8.4 million people, needed food aid since crops had been decimated. The food aid will likely be needed through March 2017.
Drought Breathes Life Into Diesel in Asia as Farms Get Scorched
Bloomberg, May 24, 2016
Farmers in South Asia were using more diesel to power irrigation and pumping equipment to water crops. In April, India’s diesel imports shot up to nearly 5,000 percent compared to the previous April. Vietnam bought 22 percent more diesel in the first four months of 2016, and Pakistan’s purchases through the Keamari and Fauji terminals increased 7 percent.
Burkina Faso capital hit by water cuts amid soaring heat
The Washington Post, May 23, 2016
Burkina Faso
A water shortage in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, has left homes without water most of the time, except for maybe a few hours during the middle of the night every few days. Water hasn’t flowed from taps during the daytime in a couple of months. The country’s dry season stretches from March to June, when water and electricity cuts are common.
Venezuela food shortages cause some to hunt dogs, cats, pigeons
USA Today, May 18, 2016
Political and economic challenges have become so dire in drought-stricken Venezuela that residents have resorted to eating small animals as food, water and power shortages take a terrible toll on the country.


Researchers identify critical factors that determine drought vulnerability of wheat, maize
Science Daily (Rockville, Md.), May 26, 2016

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

Scientists at Purdue are focusing on a gene that causes the plant to have rapid leaf pore closure, a reduced rate of water loss due to evaporation, alleviated cell membrane damage and improved photosynthesis that results in an improved reaction to drought conditions.
NASA Finds Drought in Eastern Mediterranean Worst of Past 900 Years
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mar 01, 2016
Eastern Mediterranean
Using tree rings to determine the drought history of the eastern Mediterranean Levant region, encompassing Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey,
scientists found that the present drought beginning in 1998 has probably been the most severe drought in more than 900 years.
All US Forests Threatened, Study Finds, Thanks to Drought
NewsMax, Feb 23, 2016
Forests in the western U.S. have suffered damage from wildfires, due to drought and an increase in temperatures, according to research from Duke University.


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.
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.
Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The 'Camel Of Crops'
National Public Radio (Washington, D.C.), Oct 31, 2013
Farmers trying to find crops that need less water are rediscovering grain sorghum, and people searching for healthier foods are buying more of it.
Drought Headlines Archive

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