Thursday, October 19, 2017

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for June 2016: Northern Plains, Northeast, and Southeast see new areas of drought

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

Drought expanded and intensified during June, with 16.18 percent of the contiguous United States in drought at the end of the month compared to 12.73 percent at the beginning.  New drought areas were introduced in the northern Plains, Northeast, and Southeast, with some areas intensifying to extreme drought conditions by the end of June.  Severe drought increased from 4.18 to 5.43 percent of the CONUS, extreme drought improved slightly from 2.46 to 2.36 percent, and exceptional drought maintained status quo.  Drought conditions improved across Hawaii and remained constant in Alaska and Puerto Rico.  At the end of June, approximately 81.4 million people were being impacted by drought, compared to approximately 54.2 million people at the beginning of the month.

Drought Outlook

For July, drought development is likely in several places in the United States.  These areas are in the Pacific Northwest, the northern Rocky Mountains, the northern Plains, central Oklahoma and Texas, New England, and the lower Mississippi River Valley.  It is anticipated that drought will improve on the Big Island of Hawaii and Puerto Rico as well as in the Southwest and Midwest. 

Temperatures

For the CONUS, almost all areas were above normal for temperature in June as a dome of high pressure built up over the Southwest and impacted the central Plains as well.  These areas were 5-7 degrees above normal in June.  Texas and portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were below normal in June, with departures of up to 2 degrees below normal. 

Precipitation

After a wet May over much of the central Plains and Midwest, June was drier.  Much of eastern Kansas, western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, northern Missouri, and South Dakota were below normal for precipitation in June with departures of 2-4 inches common.  Areas of the Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, and northeast Iowa were above normal for June precipitation, with departures of 2-4 inches above normal.

 

Regional Overviews

Northeast

Most of the Northeast was warmer than normal in June. The greatest departures above normal were in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where temperatures were 2-4 degrees above normal.  Dry conditions dominated the region as most areas were 2-4 inches below normal for the month; the exception was southern Pennsylvania into Delaware, as the Mid-Atlantic region was quite wet in June with most areas up to 3 inches above normal.  With the dryness, drought did expand in the region, and 12.43 percent of the Northeast is now in moderate drought compared to 0.78 percent at the beginning of June.

Southeast

Temperatures were 3-5 degrees above normal across the Southeast in June.  Precipitation was scattered, with pockets of above- and below-normal precipitation throughout the region.  The wettest areas were in the coastal region of the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast region of the Florida peninsula.  An area of dryness has been developing for the last several months over portions of northern Georgia and Alabama, and drought has expanded in these areas.  Drought expanded to 17.22 percent of the region by the end of June, compared to 13.48 percent at the beginning of the month.  Severe drought also expanded to cover 8.67 percent of the region compared to 2.19 percent at the beginning of June.  Extreme drought was also introduced into a few small areas this month and now covers 0.53 percent of the region.

Movers & Shakers for June 2016
State

Percent area May 31, 2016

Percent area June 28, 2016 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Alabama 28.84
40.69
Moderate 11.85
7.55
15.14
Severe
7.59
Arizona 1.17
7.99 Severe 6.82
Connecticut 0
40.33
Moderate
40.33
Georgia 27.96
32.69
Moderate 4.73
4.06
25.21
Severe
21.15
Iowa 0
16.45
Moderate 16.45
Maine 0
12.54
Moderate
12.54
Massachusetts
0
38.91
Moderate
38.91
Minnesota
0
3.35
Moderate
3.35
Mississippi 0
29.46
Moderate
29.46
Missouri 0
4.32
Moderate
4.32
New Hampshire
0
38.66
Moderate
38.66
New Jersey
0
40.03
Moderate
40.03
New York
0
16.14
Moderate
16.14
North Dakota
0
3.61
Moderate
3.61
Oklahoma
0
5.86
Moderate
5.86
Oregon 24.13
 44.55 Moderate
20.42
South Carolina
0
3.85
Severe
3.85
South Dakota 
0.53
38.91
Moderate
38.38
0
5.81
Severe
5.81
Tennessee
1.96
5.64
Severe
3.68
Vermont
0
 11.56 Moderate
11.56
Washington
0
3.63
Moderate
3.63
Wyoming
4.77
12.84
Moderate
8.07
0
4.77
Severe
4.77
Biggest improvements in drought
Hawaii 57.36 43.74 Moderate 13.62
37.71
11.53
Severe
26.18
5.41
1.61
Extreme
3.80
Nevada 5.39 0.26 Extreme
5.13
New Mexico
36.77
15.62
Moderate
21.15
Tennessee 47.28
 32.66 Moderate
14.62

Midwest

Above-normal temperatures dominated the Midwest, with most areas 2-4 degrees above normal in June.  The only areas normal or slightly below normal for temperature were in the northern regions of Michigan and Minnesota.  Precipitation was mixed in the Midwest, with areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Indiana recording precipitation 1-3 inches above normal.  Western Iowa, Missouri, southern Illinois, and western Minnesota were drier than normal with departures of 1-3 inches below normal.  Drought was introduced into the Midwest in June and now covers 3.40 percent of the region, mainly in areas of southeast Iowa, northern Missouri, and western Illinois. 

High Plains

Like the Midwest, the High Plains was warmer than normal in June, with departures of 4-7 degrees above normal common.  Dryness settled in along the Missouri River valley, and most of South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, and eastern Wyoming were 2-4 inches below normal precipitation in June.  Drought expanded and now covers 9.19 percent of the region compared to 1.00 percent at the beginning of June.  Severe and extreme drought were introduced and now cover 1.82 percent and 0.28 of the High Plains, respectively.

South

Above-normal temperatures were common over most of the South in June, with readings 2-4 degrees above normal.  The exception was in central and south Texas, where temperatures were 2-4 degrees below normal.  Precipitation was scattered in the region with pockets of both wetter and drier than normal areas.  Most areas of eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas were drier than normal, with departures of 1-3 inches below normal.  Areas of Mississippi were also 1-3 inches below normal.  Portions of west Texas and South Texas were 1-3 inches above normal for June precipitation.  Drought expanded in June and now covers 6.23 percent of the region compared to 3.80 percent at the beginning of the month.  Severe drought expanded from 0.16 to 0.45 percent of the region. 

West

Hot conditions dominated much of the West in June, with temperatures 5-7 degrees above normal for most locations.  It was dry through much of Idaho and Montana, with departures of 1-3 inches below normal.  Most of the rest of the West was slightly above to slightly below normal, with departures of less than 1 inch above/below normal common.  Drought expanded slightly, with 27.65 percent of the West in drought now compared to 27.17 percent at the beginning of June.  Severe drought expanded from 10.00 to 11.08 percent, but extreme drought improved from 6.23 to 5.80 percent.

 

 

 

 

June 2016 impact summary: Below-normal rainfall leads to crop stress, fire concerns

The two charts above summarize information from the Drought Impact Reporter.
 
The two charts above summarize information from the California Department of Water Resources Water Conditions page.

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

June was tremendously dry for many parts of the country, with areas in the Northeast, Southeast, eastern Great Plains and western U.S. receiving half or, in some cases, just a small fraction of normal rainfall and setting new records.  As June progressed, more reports of agriculture impacted by dry weather arose, revealing crop stress and damage in many areas. 

In California, wildfires and fire danger, in addition to water issues, were the biggest concerns, as indicated by many of the 29 impacts recorded in the Drought Impact Reporter.  In many other drought-affected states, the greater concern was burgeoning drought, leading to limited crop growth and damage.  Missouri, with 13 impacts for the month, had a touch of moderate drought while about half of the state was abnormally dry at the end of the month.  The state climatologist had asked those experiencing dry conditions to document their observations in the DIR, boosting the number of impacts.  Crop damage was reported in Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan, among other states, as dry conditions pushed farmers to irrigate to keep crops growing.

Downtown L.A.'s five-year rain total is lowest ever recorded, by Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2016

Dry was the word for June weather in Attleboro area, by Stephen Peterson, Sun Chronicle, Attleboro (Mass.), July 6, 2016

Dry June keeps Bozeman weather stations inches below normal moisture levels, by Greg Ainsworth, Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, July 5, 2016

Detroit weather: June 2016 cracks top 10 list of driest on record, by Dave Bartkowiak Jr., WDIV ClickOnDetroit, June 30, 2016

Parched Flint has second driest June on record, by Mark Torregrossa, MLive (Mich.), July 6, 2016

June weather has been 'quite dry' for Omaha area, by Jay Withrow and Andrew J. Nelson, Omaha World-Herald, June 30, 2016

California wildfires continue

By early June, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had fought 1,562 wildfires that burned nearly 28,000 acres, according to Daniel Berlant, spokesman for Cal Fire. The area burned was twice that consumed in the first half of 2015, when 11,353 acres went up in flames.  Wildfires were burning larger and more aggressively in the state’s fifth year of drought.

Drought sparks larger wildfires throughout California, by Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2016

Forest Service: 66 million dead trees in California since 2010

Such a lengthy stretch of drought has inflicted intense damage on trees in a six-county region of California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada most severely affected by the drought, where roughly 66 million trees have died since 2010 because of a bark beetle epidemic and warm temperatures, according to the U.S. Forest Service.  The tree mortality from Tuolumne to Kern counties rose by 65 percent since the last mortality figures were announced in October 2015, which documented 40 million dead trees.  The sheer number of dead trees could fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives. 

Feds: Drought kills 66 million trees in California's Sierra, by Scott Smith, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), June 22, 2016

California's water supply estimate updated

The near-normal snowfall in the Sierra this winter suggested some return to normalcy, as if drought were not such a looming concern as in previous years, but the warm, dry spring caused the snow to melt and run off earlier than expected.  The California Department of Water Resources revised its water supply estimate and predicted just three-quarters of the normal runoff during the months of heaviest snowmelt, short-changing the rivers and reservoirs that usually receive a third of the state’s water. 

California drought bummer: Sierra water runoff coming up short, by Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), June 20, 2016

California drought recovery could take years; additional water found

Drought recovery in California could take four years, even with above-normal snowfall in the Sierra Nevada during the next several winters, said Steve Margulis, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.  This particular drought ranks as the most severe in the last 1,200 years, according to studies cited in the research. 

But, in an interesting turn, Stanford scientists discovered a huge pool of water in a deep aquifer beneath California’s Central Valley, containing three times more water than previously thought.  Much of this newly discovered water lies 1,000 to 3,000 feet below ground, making it expensive to extract, and ground subsidence has been problematic in the valley for decades, raising questions about how to access the water in an economical fashion.  In addition, some of the deep aquifer water contains more salt than shallower water, requiring treatment before the water is useable.  Protecting the water from contamination is another concern, given the prevalence of oil and gas drilling in the region.

Research: California years away from making drought recovery, by Scott Smith, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate.com), June 22, 2016

Stanford scientists find ‘water windfall’ beneath California’s Central Valley, by Ker Than, Stanford University, California, June 27, 2016

Crop damage emerges

Pockets of drought have developed in parts of the eastern U.S., causing stress and damage to crops, increasing fire activity, and leading to water restrictions for some communities. 

Southeastern U.S. crops show effects of drought

Crop damage was apparent in northern Alabama, where crops were withering and may be past the point of recovery.  Corn was stunted in early June and yields were thought to be diminishing. Conditions were similar in northern Georgia, where the lack of rain increased the fire danger and dry pastures meant that growers would be feeding their livestock hay if rain did not fall soon.  Hay growth was slow in western North Carolina, too, and vegetation and gardens required watering to keep them alive. 

The drought continues to affect crops, WZDX-TV Huntsville (Ala.), June 28, 2016

Lack of rain is hurting corn crops in North Alabama, by Scott Sheahen, WZDX-TV Huntsville (Ala.), June 6, 2016 

Officials warn of wildfire conditions, by Ben Benton, Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.), June 2, 2016

Today’s Topic: Weather hurting NC crops, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, June 14, 2016 

Midwestern crops stressed; burn bans enacted

A Christmas tree grower in Mason in south central Michigan expressed dismay that even established trees were manifesting signs of damage from the lack of rain.  Dozens of burning bans had been enacted around Lansing, Michigan, to prevent fires from holiday fireworks and ordinary outdoor burning.  In parts of Indiana and Illinois, corn growth was stunted and leaves were curling severely from the lack of rain.  Hot, dry weather in Missouri stressed crops, and corn stalks began to take on a grayish hue, with leaves growing close to the stalks. Grasses stopped growing, and farmers in southwestern Missouri were selling cattle.

Dry weather hurting Christmas tree farms, by WILX-TV Lansing NBC 10 (Mich.), June 30, 2016 

Burning bans could impact area fireworks, by Ken Palmer, Lansing State Journal (Mich.), June 30, 2016

We need rain: Michiana showing signs of drought, by Tom Coomes, ABC 57 WBND-TV South Bend News (Ind.), June 13, 2016

Heat, lack rain hurting some crops, by Greg Olson, Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Ill.), June 22, 2016

Weather poses lower than average crop yield, by Hope Lecchi, Sedalia Democrat (Mo.), June 17, 2016 

Northeastern growers turn to irrigation; some communities restrict water use

Dry weather in Maine has some crops weeks behind schedule, and growers were irrigating if they had the capability.  Irrigation was the saving grace in New Hampshire, too, where as many as 70 towns and water systems had restricted or banned outdoor water use to conserve water.  A couple of Massachusetts communities also were restricting water use until rains returned.  Connecticut’s Department of Public Health declared a drought advisory on June 27 and urged residents to follow guidelines for conserving water.  In New York, seeds had not germinated well, irrigation was needed and lawns were turning brown. 

Dry spell has Maine growers going with the flow, by Beth Quimby, Portland Press Herald (Maine), June 27, 2016

Dry spell means more work down on the farm, by Don Himsel, Nashua Telegraph (N.H.), June 29, 2016

As dry weather continues, water restrictions spring up, by Eli Okun and Melissa Proulx, Manchester Union Leader (N.H.), June 28, 2016

Southampton enacting voluntary water bans, by Jennifer Pagliei, WWLP-TV Springfield (Mass.), June 27, 2016

State Issues 'Drought Advisory,' Farmers Worried Lack of Rainfall Damaging Crops, by Gregory B. Hladky, Hartford Courant (Conn.), June 27, 2016

PARCHED! Farmers dealing with near drought, by Steve Buchiere, Geneva Finger Lakes Times (N.Y.), June 29, 2016

 

 

 

 


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