Thursday, October 19, 2017

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for August 2016: Drought continues in Southeast, Northeast, Black Hills, and West

Access the latest monthly drought outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
 
The two maps above are from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
 
Find these and other products related to the U.S. Drought Monitor on the USDM website.

By Brian Fuchs, NDMC Climatologist

Drought

Conditions across the United States did not change a great deal during August.  The core drought areas in the Southeast, Northeast, Black Hills, and West all continued, with some intensification taking place in the Northeast.  August ended with 16.31 percent of the United States in drought compared to 17.68 percent at the beginning of the month.  Severe drought was stable at 6.07 percent, extreme drought improved slightly from 2.41 to 2.26 percent and exceptional drought remained unchanged.  Last year at this time, 28.40 percent of the United States was in drought with almost 9 percent in extreme to exceptional drought.  Approximately 91.7 million people are being affected by drought currently, compared to approximately 101.1 million people at the beginning of the month.

Drought Outlook

The outlook for September has drought continuing over much of the Northeast and Southeast with the potential for slight improvements in both areas and a higher potential of drought developing over portions of the Southeast.  Drought in the Plains will improve while drought in the West will persist with chances of further development in Oregon, Wyoming, and Idaho.

Temperatures

August was warmer than normal over most areas east of the Mississippi River, where departures were typically 4-6 degrees above normal.  Areas of the Plains and Rocky Mountains were cooler than normal in August, with most departures about 2 degrees below normal.  The western United States was warmer than normal, with most departures about 2-3 degrees above normal.

Precipitation

August was wetter than normal over much of the Plains, Midwest, and Mississippi River Valley.  These areas were 4-8 inches above normal, with areas of southern Louisiana experiencing flooding rains and departures of up to 20 inches above normal.  It was dry in the Mid-Atlantic and into the coastal regions of the Southeast, with departures of up to 4 inches below normal.  Dry conditions dominated the West with departures of up to 4 inches below normal common.

 

Regional Overviews

Northeast

The coastal areas of the region were drier than normal, with departures of up to 4 inches below normal in portions of New Jersey and Virginia.  Much of the rest of the region was normal to above normal for precipitation, with departures of up to 1.50 inches above normal common in Pennsylvania and New York.  Temperatures were above normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees above normal common.  The drought area did not expand in August, but it did intensify.  Severe drought increased from 11.01 to 12.82 percent of the area while extreme drought was introduced and now covers 2.52 percent of the region.

Southeast

Temperatures were above normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees above normal common.  Conditions were drier than normal over the eastern portions of the region, with normal to slightly below normal rainfall over the area along the coast.  The rest of the region had normal to slightly above normal precipitation, with departures of up to 4 inches above normal.  The drought area improved slightly in August, covering 17.61 percent of the region compared to 20.61 percent at the beginning of the month.  Severe drought improved from 11.72 to 7.85 percent of the region while extreme drought also improved, now covering 1.41 percent of the region compared to 3.27 at the beginning of August.

Movers & Shakers for August 2016
State

Percent area August 2, 2016

Percent area August 30, 2016 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Georgia 43.08
49.28
Moderate 6.20
Idaho 0.33
7.45
Moderate
7.12
Massachusetts
61.70
77.38 Severe 15.68
0
22.67
Extreme 22.67
Montana
14.73
24.93
Moderate
10.20
1.13
7.60
Severe
6.47
New Hampshire
0
9.06
Extreme
9.06
New York
44.67
53.01 Moderate
8.34
24.21
29.10
Severe
4.89
0
4.99
Extreme 4.99
Oklahoma
8.18
14.06
Moderate
5.88
Oregon
0
12.03
Severe 12.03
Rhode Island
82.60
99.02
Moderate
16.42
Washington
 3.63 7.88
Moderate
4.25
Wyoming
20.21
29.95
Moderate
9.74
Biggest improvements in drought
Alabama
40.76
27.23
Moderate
13.53
18.33
9.52
Severe
8.81
Connecticut 10.22
4.73
Severe
5.49
Georgia
12.52 5.27 Extreme
7.25
Hawaii
13.83
5.82
Moderate
8.01
Louisiana
5.92
0
Moderate
5.92
Michigan
13.65
0.48
Moderate
13.17
Mississippi
51.03
13.77
Moderate
37.26
24.10
 6.05 Severe
18.05
Nebraska
10.35
2.09
Moderate
8.26
New Hampshire
41.60
31.57
Moderate 10.03
New Jersey
24.35
11.41
Moderate
12.94
New Mexico
27.00
23.53
Moderate
3.47
North Carolina
10.08
4.20
Moderate
5.88
5.37
0.82
Severe
4.55
Ohio
42.89
19.78
Moderate
23.11
Rhode Island
20.63
15.87
Severe
4.76
South Carolina
25.32
17.69
Moderate
 7.63
 11.00 2.12
Severe
8.88
South Dakota
49.00
 35.13 Moderate
13.87
5.07
1.42
Extreme
3.65
Tennessee
32.31
13.66
Moderate
18.65
12.66
7.56
Severe
 5.10
Texas
5.83
2.43
Moderate
3.40
Vermont
14.83
 1.20 Moderate
13.63

Midwest

Most of the region recorded above-normal precipitation in August, with some areas up to 6 inches above normal.  Temperatures were above normal, with the eastern areas of the Midwest recording temperatures 4-6 degrees above normal while areas in the west were normal to slightly above normal.  Drought is not an issue in the Midwest with only 1.83 percent of the region now in drought compared to 5.86 percent at the beginning of August.

High Plains

Cooler than normal temperatures were recorded over the region, with some areas of Nebraska and Kansas 3 degrees below normal for August.  Portions of the Dakotas were normal to slightly above normal for temperature, with departures of 2-3 degrees above normal.  Areas of Kansas, southeast Nebraska, and the eastern Dakotas were wetter than normal, with some areas recording 3-4 inches of rain above normal in August.  Central Nebraska was drier than normal with departures of up to 3 inches below normal.  Drought remains a big concern over the western portions of South Dakota but the intensity did improve slightly where rains were recorded.  Drought now covers 12.02 percent of the region compared to 13.36 at the beginning of August.  Severe drought improved from 4.04 to 3.87 percent while extreme drought improved from 1.48 to 0.72 percent of the region.

South

As in the High Plains, the western portions of the region were cooler than normal while the eastern portions were warmer than normal.  The big story this month was the flooding rains in Louisiana.  Areas of southern Louisiana recorded up to 20 inches of rain above normal for the month, causing numerous reports of damage to property.  Most of the region was near to above normal for precipitation for the month.  Drought improved from 11.80 to 5.45 percent of the region being impacted.  Severe drought improved from 3.61 to 1.28 percent of the region while extreme drought was eliminated.

West

Most of the West was normal to slightly below normal for precipitation in August.  Portions of the Southwest did see above-normal rain because of the seasonal monsoons while most of the southern Rocky Mountains were also above normal for precipitation in August.  The west coast states were warmer than normal in August, with some areas up to 2 degrees above normal for the month.  The other states were cooler than normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees below normal.  Drought expanded slightly in the Pacific Northwest and in portions of Montana.  Drought now covers 34.75 percent of the region compared to 32.16 at the beginning of August.  Severe drought increased from 11.10 to 12.84 percent of the region while extreme drought improved from 6.09 to 5.99 percent of the region.

 

 

 

 

August 2016 impact summary: California struggles with wildfires; crop damage, depleted water supplies affect the Northeast

The two charts above summarize information from the Drought Impact Reporter.

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

This summer’s drought in the Northeast continued through August, ruining crops, depleting surface water supplies, forcing communities to conserve, and prompting state-level drought declarations in several states.  By impact count, Massachusetts seemed to be the epicenter of drought in the Northeast, while California continued to struggle with drought and wildfires in the West.  California and Massachusetts each had 35 impacts for the month in the Drought Impact Reporter, with both states experiencing water shortages.  California dealt with numerous massive wildfires churning through acres of parched brush and trees, while Massachusetts and the rest of the Northeast faced the challenge of trying to grow crops during such a hot, unseasonably dry summer.  South Dakota also saw drought in the western third of the state, prompting users to submit 18 of the 21 total impacts for the month, documenting agricultural difficulties.  At least 215 impacts were added to the Drought Impact Reporter for August.

Water supplies a concern in northeastern U.S.

Drought watches, warnings and advisories were issued in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as drought’s grip tightened on the Northeast during August. Most residents in the Northeast were asked to conserve water, and some communities enacted mandatory water restrictions and prohibited all outdoor watering while supplies were low from drought.  In New Hampshire, more than 100 communities had restrictions on water use, while in New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, wells produced less water or went dry.

Drought warning issued for western New York, WHEC-TV (Rochester, NY), Aug. 3, 2016

DEP Declares Drought Watch for 34 Pennsylvania Counties, Gant Daily News (Clearfield, PA), Aug. 3, 2016

Massachusetts drought conditions 'unprecedented', by Colin A. Young, State House News Service (Boston, MA), The Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), Aug. 11, 2016

Governor Raimondo Issuing Statewide Drought Advisory, by Ian Donnis, Rhode Island Public Radio (Providence, RI), Aug. 18, 2016

Towns across New Hampshire cracking down on excessive water consumption as drought drags on, by Nick Stoico and David Brooks, Concord Monitor (NH), Aug. 4, 2016

Governor Baker Elevates State’s Response to Widespread Drought, Mass.gov, Aug. 18, 2016

Severe drought deepens in Upstate NY: Wells dry up, corn shrivels, cities run low, by Glen Coin, Syracuse.com (NY), Aug. 5, 2016

Wildlife stressed amid drought

Low river flows and surface waters in the Northeast caused hardship for wildlife trying to find food and water. Stream levels were below normal, which allowed water temperatures to climb, increasing stress for fish as warmer water carries less oxygen. In Maine, anglers were urged to fish earlier or later in the day to avoid stressing fish further. Fishing was closed on parts of the West Branch Farmington River and the Farmington River in Connecticut, because of the occurrence of fish kills.

Mosquito populations were larger than normal, which may seem counterintuitive during a drought.  Low rivers and ponds offer more shallow areas that could aid mosquito reproduction.

New England bears, snakes and ants were venturing farther to find food and water and were turning up in unexpected places.  New Hampshire bears have been seen foraging at campgrounds and in neighborhood trash cans because berry bushes produced fewer berries during drought.

As drought takes toll on trout and salmon, state urges anglers: Go easy on the fish, by Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald (ME), Aug. 12, 2016

Farmington River and tributaries closed to fishing due to drought, heat, New London Day (CT), Aug. 19, 2016

Drought Means Bolder Bears, Stressed Fish, by Holly Ramer, Associated Press, The Recorder (Greenfield, MA), Aug. 21, 2016

New Hampshire dairy farms folding amid 2016 drought

Since the beginning of the year, 19 of New Hampshire’s 120 dairy farms have closed as prolonged low milk prices and summer drought strained finances.  Drought cut into production of hay and silage corn.  With low milk prices, dairymen tried to produce more, causing a milk glut that made prices drop further.  Over the previous four years, only 10 of the state’s dairy farms had closed.  Dairy producers across the region faced similar struggles.

Dying dairies: How drought, low milk prices lead to decline in N.H. farms, by Elodie Reed, Concord Monitor (NH), Aug. 30, 2016

California sees above-normal wildfire activity, parched vegetation

Amid California’s fifth year of drought, wildfires have raged fiercely and exhibited unusual fire behavior this summer as the landscape in the southern part of the state is exceedingly dry.  The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported 4,458 fires that burned 192,190 acres from the start of the year through Sept. 3.  Both figures were above the five-year average—the number of fires was 22 percent higher, while the acreage burned was nearly twice the five-year average. The National Interagency Coordination Center listed state and all other agencies as responding to 5,669 fires charring 517,206 acres through early Sept. 7.

Critically low moisture levels in the manzanita bushes and other woody shrubs in the chaparral habitat of the foothills of Southern California played a large role in the fire danger and intensity of wildfires. The brush became as dry during the summer as it would typically be in the fall as a consequence of the state being in its fifth year of drought.

California Department of Forestry and Fire stats

Wildfire fears made real by Southern California's drought dry brush, by David Danelski, The Riverside Press-Enterprise (CA), Aug. 30, 2016

Most urban California water districts easing up on conservation

Roughly 85 percent of California’s 411 urban water districts told the State Water Resources Control Board that they had at least a three-year water supply even if the drought continued.  Districts maintaining that their water supplies were sufficient were not required to adopt state-mandated water restrictions.  Most of the water districts acknowledging inadequate supplies were located in the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and the Los Angeles area. 

California water districts: We can handle three more years of drought, by Phillip Reese, The Sacramento Bee (CA), Aug. 16, 2016

Excessive water users in California targeted

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring retail urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to establish rules defining “excessive water use” and impose those rules during drought emergencies.  The law requires these suppliers to have policies for identifying and targeting heavy water users during drought emergencies, such as fines or rate systems that charge more for using large amounts of water.

The Latest: California updates rules on water guzzlers, Associated Press, The Sacramento Bee (CA), Aug. 29, 2016

California agriculture down $603 million in 2016

Drought has cost California farmers an estimated $603 million in 2016, according to a study from the University of California at Davis.  Winter precipitation lessened the impacts felt from drought in previous years, but parts of the state, such as the San Joaquin Valley, still desperately needed rainfall.  Farmers fallowed 78,780 acres in 2016 for lack of water, compared to 500,000 unplanted acres in 2015, costing farmers $247 million in crop revenue and shorting the rural economy about 1,815 jobs this year.  Farmers also spent an extra $303 million to pump groundwater to replace water that state and federal water projects did not provide.  Including indirect costs, the total economic cost of drought in 2016 may be about $603 million. In 2015, drought cost the farm economy $2.7 billion.

Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases, by Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee (CA), Aug. 15, 2016

Texas cattle herds still recovering after 2011 drought

Beef cattle producers in Texas were continuing to recover from 2011, the driest year on record for the state, when beef cow herds were cut by about 20 percent for a loss of more than 1 million beef cattle.  By 2014, the number of beef cattle in Texas was 3.9 million, the lowest since 1958, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, while in the Brazos Valley, beef cattle herds numbered 167,000 head. 

In January 2016, the beef cattle population in Texas had risen to nearly 4.3 million statewide and 183,000 in the Brazos Valley as producers continued to rebuild herds. 

Beef cattle industry beginning to recover five years after drought, by Aimee Breaux, The Eagle (Bryan-College Station, TX), Aug. 28, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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