Tuesday, October 17, 2017

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for October 2016: Conditions deteriorate in Southeast

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 Deborah Bathke, NDMC Climatologist

Drought

October rains brought drought relief to the northwestern United States, eastern Oklahoma, coastal New England, and a broad area from West Virginia to western New York.  Other parts of the country didn’t fare as well.  Warm, dry weather deteriorated conditions in the drought-stressed Southeast and parts of the western Plains.  For the contiguous United States as a whole, drought expanded and intensified during the month of October, increasing from 19.44 to 26.8 percent; severe drought increased from 8.37 to 10.95 percent; extreme drought increased from 3.14 to 4.86 percent; and exceptional drought increased from 1.17 to 1.71 percent. There was no drought in Alaska and drought increased slightly in Hawaii, from 1.06 to 1.68 percent. At the beginning of October, approximately 102.5 million people were being impacted by drought, compared to approximately 128.6 million people at the end of the month.

Drought Outlook

During November, the Monthly Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center projects that drought will persist over the southern United States, coastal New England, the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, and southern California. Precipitation outlooks favor the continued improvement of drought conditions in the western portions of drought regions in the Northeast, eastern Oregon, northern California and northwestern Nevada, and southwestern Montana.   Outside the contiguous United States, improvement is projected in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Temperatures

Most of the United States experienced above-normal temperatures during the month of October with just a few patches of near-normal to below-normal temperatures in the West.  Departures of more than 8 degrees above average were recorded across the southern plains and southern Midwest.  Areas with below-average temperatures included parts of Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Montana, where departures ranged from 2 to 6 degrees below normal.

Precipitation

October brought a series of storms to the Pacific Northwest, resulting in monthly totals of more than 12 inches above normal along parts of the coast.  Wetter than normal conditions were also recorded over the coastal Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic, the upper Midwest, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania and New York.  Dryness remained in the South, Southwest, and western Plains, where many areas recorded less than 25 percent of normal precipitation.

 

Regional Overviews

Northeast

Temperatures in the Northeast were near to above normal with departures generally 2 to 4 degrees above normal.  October precipitation was variable across the region.  Southern Maine, southern New Hampshire, eastern Virginia, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and western New York saw departures of 150 to 300 percent above-normal precipitation for the month.  Dryness continued in the remainder of the regions with areas of Maryland and eastern New York receiving less than 25 percent of their monthly precipitation. Overall, drought expanded to now include 21.24 percent of the region, compared to 40.99 percent at the end of September.  However, severe drought decreased slightly from 21.98 to 19.86 percent, with extreme drought also decreasing from 5.61 to 1.37 percent.

Southeast

Coastal areas of the region were generally wetter than normal with monthly totals of more than 150 percent of normal from southern Virginia to Florida.  Farther west in the region, drought continued and most areas received less than 25 percent of normal precipitation for the month, which equates to departures of 3 to 6 inches below normal.  Temperatures of more than 6 degrees above normal in the most drought-stressed regions exacerbated conditions.  Accordingly, drought expanded and intensified during the month; 38.83 percent of the region is now in drought compared to 25.45 percent one month ago.  Severe drought increased from to 13.15 to 27.52 percent, extreme drought increased from 4.69 to 19.68 percent, and exceptional drought increased from 0.48 to 5.06 percent of the region.

Movers & Shakers for September 2016
State

Percent area October 4, 2016

Percent area November 1, 2016 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Alabama 55.35
100.00
Moderate 44.65
23.05
74.76
Severe
51.71
8.97
51.91
Extreme 42.94
0.06
14.84
Exceptional 14.78
Arkansas
0
61.29
Moderate
61.29
0
3.88 Severe 3.88
Colorado
2.45
24.31
Moderate
21.86
Florida
0
14.64
Moderate
14.64
Georgia 51.86
57.84
Moderate
5.98
37.46
49.92
Severe
12.46
15.01
39.57
Extreme
24.56
2.29
14.00
Exceptional
11.71
Indiana
0
9.57 Moderate
9.57
Kansas
0
4.19 Moderate
4.19
Kentucky 0
81.88
Moderate 81.88
Louisiana
0
75.78
Moderate
75.78
0
17.52
Severe 17.52
Maine
40.81
69.99
Moderate
29.18
Mississippi
49.26
99.98
Moderate
50.72
9.97 59.50
Severe
49.53
0
26.65
Extreme 26.65
New Hampshire
62.44
82.31
Moderate
19.87
40.49
57.42
Severe
16.93
New Jersey
0.57
39.12
Severe
38.55
New York
66.94
83.17
Moderate
16.23
North Carolina
4.55
 12.01 Severe
7.46
0
5.43
Extreme
5.43
Oklahoma
20.15
36.44
Moderate
16.29
South Carolina
16.00
22.02
Moderate
6.02
5.12
16.41
Severe
11.29
0
12.20
Extreme
12.20
South Dakota
21.60
31.81
Moderate
10.21
Tennessee 27.21
97.46
Moderate
70.25
10.27
35.09
Severe 24.82
4.03
14.71
Extreme
10.68
1.38
5.07
Exceptional
3.69
Texas
1.41
14.87
Moderate 13.46
0
 6.50 Severe
6.50
Vermont
43.99
80.01
Moderate
36.02
2.42
29.15 Severe
26.73
Biggest improvements in drought
California
83.59
75.26
Moderate
8.33
Connecticut
86.25
69.32
Severe
16.93
Idaho
8.89
1.04 Moderate
7.85
Maine
 26.75 13.45
Severe
13.30
8.35
0
Extreme
 8.35
Massachusetts
89.95
63.43
Severe
26.52
52.13
28.87
Extreme
23.26
Montana
24.24
6.32
Moderate
17.92
5.22
 0.34 Severe
4.88
New Hampshire
19.27
4.67
Extreme
14.60
New York
5.50
0
Extreme
5.50
Oregon
50.28
27.07
Moderate
23.21
12.30
2.63
Severe
 9.67
Pennsylvania
20.24
16.03
Moderate
4.21
5.59
 0.88 Severe
4.71
Rhode Island
84.31
0
Severe
84.31
Washington
 5.21 0
Moderate
5.21
Wyoming
19.64
9.47
Moderate
10.17
6.69 1.73
Severe
4.96

Midwest

Warmer than normal temperatures continued to dominate the Midwest in October, with departures of 2 to 4 degrees above normal common in the northern part of the region and departures of 6 to 10 degrees above normal in the southern part.  Precipitation was mixed and ranged from less than 25 percent of normal in Kentucky to more than 200 percent of normal in southern Minnesota. Pockets of dryness remain in southern Iowa, eastern Missouri, and western Illinois. Moderate drought was introduced in southern Indiana and across much of Kentucky.

High Plains

Temperatures across the High Plains were generally warmer than normal, with departures ranging from 1 degree above normal in North Dakota to 6 degrees or more above normal in parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado. Precipitation in most of the region was normal to slightly below normal, with departures generally less than 2 inches below normal.  Pockets of Nebraska and eastern South Dakota recorded departures of one or more inches above normal for the month, while precipitation in western Wyoming was more than 3 inches above normal.  Drought conditions improved in northwest Wyoming and expanded in western South Dakota, eastern Colorado, central Nebraska, and western Kansas.  Drought is impacting 12.91 percent of the region compared to 7.78 percent last month.

South

Dry conditions dominated most of the South, with departures 3 or more inches below normal common across the region.  North central Oklahoma, the western border of Missouri and Arkansas, and the north central plains of Texas were wetter than normal, with departures of 1 to 3 inches above normal. Temperatures were above normal across the entire region, with departures ranging from 4 to 10 degrees above normal. The warm, dry conditions caused drought to expand; drought now covers 42.25 percent of the region compared to 10.06 percent at the end of September.  Severe drought increased from 2.42 to 14.52 percent, extreme drought increased from 0.32 to 3.6 percent, and exceptional drought increased from 0.11 to 0.41 percent of the region.

West

Temperatures in the West ranged from 4 degrees below normal in parts of northern Montana, central Washington, central Oregon, and northern California to more than 8 degrees above normal in eastern Colorado.  Precipitation departures of 6 inches or more in the Northwest helped to alleviate drought and dryness in Washington, Idaho, western Montana, western Oregon, and northern California.  Much of the remainder of the region remained dry.  As a whole, drought in the West improved from 30.14 to 25.26 percent of the region, with severe drought decreasing from 13.10 to 11.18 percent and extreme and exceptional drought remaining unchanged at 5.73 and 2.81 percent, respectively.

 

 

 

 

October 2016 impact summary: Parched Southeast, Northeast watching water supplies, fire threat

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

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

The Southeast and Northeast continued to feel drought’s grip in October, with drought intensifying and expanding.   Wildfires broke out at mid-month in an area stretching from eastern Kentucky to the south through Alabama, with fire activity becoming more intense by the end of the month and into November. Crop and pasture damage and tough decisions about livestock were also a large component of the impacts for the Southeast, as Georgia growers weighed in with 65 entries—an unusually high number of user-submitted impacts—describing agricultural concerns.  Georgia had the most impacts with 88 for October, thanks to farmers’ input, with Tennessee and Alabama coming in a distant second and third with 24 and 23 impacts, respectively. 

Southeast reeling from hot, dry summer and dry fall

Farmers in Alabama and Georgia have sold cattle because drought curbed pasture growth and hay production, leaving farmers with no stored hay for the winter.  Water supplies were down to a trickle, with water restrictions in effect in many communities and looming for others if rain did not fall soon.  Numerous counties in Georgia and Alabama were declared natural disaster areas stemming from drought this growing season. 

Alabama drought is worsening, killing plants, drying creeks, by Jay Reeves, The Associated Press, Nov. 3, 2016

Deep South drought kills crops, threatens herds, dries lakes, by Jeff Martin and Janet McConnaughey, The Associated Press, Oct. 28, 2016

USDA drought disaster designation map

Southeast sees flurry of wildfires

Unusually dry conditions increased the incidence of fires across the Southeast in October with the situation worsening as the month wore on.  Fires burned more than 12,000 acres in Alabama in October, despite Gov. Robert Bentley signing a Drought Emergency Declaration into effect on Oct. 12, forbidding all outdoor burning in 46 of the state’s 67 counties.  In early November, the ‘No Burn’ ordered was expanded to encompass all counties. Georgia, too, was not issuing burn permits and was coming to ban all outdoor burning to reduce the likelihood of fire damaging property or threatening lives in the drought-affected parts of the state.  Open fires were prohibited in national forests in eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina as fire activity became more prevalent.  In Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin declared a state of emergency for several counties in early November due to a large number of wildfires burning in the eastern part of the state. 

Over 1,000 Wildfires Since October 1st – Dry Conditions Worsen as ‘No Burn’ Remains In Effect for Much of Alabama, Alabama Forestry Commission (Montgomery, Ala.), Oct. 27, 2016

‘No Burn’ Order Expanded to All Alabama Counties, Alabama Forestry Commission (Montgomery, Ala.), Nov. 7, 2016

Still no end in sight for drought in East Tennessee, by Steve Ahillen, Knoxville News Sentinel (Ky.), Oct. 28, 2016

Dry conditions leads to fire ban in Great Smoky Mountains, WCYB-TV (Bristol, Va.), Nov. 2, 2016

Ky wildfires prompt emergency declaration, by Chris Kenning, Louisville Courier-Journal (Ky.), Nov. 3, 2016

Southeast water concerns grow

Streams, rivers, and stock ponds for livestock were drying up in the Southeast, too, requiring strict conservation in some cities.  In Birmingham, water restrictions intensified as the elevation of Lake Purdy dropped to 531.33 feet and was 19.67 feet low, or at 27.6 percent of capacity.  Drought surcharges for excessive water use could make water bills quite expensive. The Alabama River, stretching from Montgomery south to Mobile Bay, was nearing a new low flow record as it dropped to 4.37 feet, about 1 foot above the low of 3.4 feet during the 2007 drought.  This extreme low came in spite of flooding 11 months ago when the river became a 13-mile-wide expanse of water where the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers meet in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in southwestern Alabama.  Some other streams and small rivers have also gone dry, such as Patton Creek and the Little River in northeastern Alabama.  The Cahaba River in central Alabama was significantly lower than usual, allowing many hundreds of mussels to die when they became stranded above the water line.

Drought means a stunningly clear Gulf, happy fishermen, and bad news for oyster lovers, by Ben Raines, AL.com (Mobile), Nov. 1, 2016

Alabama streams, rivers drying up due to extreme drought, by Dennis Pillion, AL.com (Birmingham), Oct. 23, 2016

Parched Northeast coping with variety of challenges

The fire danger was higher than usual in the Northeast, also.  New Hampshire forestry and fire officials warned the public to be careful with fires.  In addition, many water supplies were on the low side, increasing the need for water conservation as hundreds of wells failed, keeping well drillers very busy and those with dry wells trying to cope.

Foresters: Drought has increased threat of wildfires, by The Associated Press, Greenwich Time (Conn.), Oct. 24, 2016

As drought expands, N.H. residents asked to conserve water, by The Associated Press, Seacoast Online (Portsmouth, N.H.), Oct. 21, 2016

Groundwater levels low in Maine

Groundwater levels were lower than usual in southern Maine, where precipitation was 50 to 60 percent below normal for the April through September time frame. The Maine Public Utilities Commission was trying to determine whether individual districts were coping on their own or a statewide emergency supply plan was needed. As groundwater levels declined, Poland Springs, a water bottler in Maine, drew more from springs in central Maine and trucked the water to bottling plants in the southern part of the state to ease pressure on its springs in the south.

Drought prompts PUC to consider need for statewide water supply plan, by Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald (Maine), Oct. 13, 2016

Connecticut issues first drought watch

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy urged all residents to conserve water as drought persisted in the state. The request for water savings was made after the Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup issued the state’s first drought watch for six counties and asked for water conservation of 15 percent.

Malloy Asks For Voluntary Water Restrictions As Drought Continues by Russel Blair and Gregory B. Hladky, Hartford Courant (Conn.), Oct. 28, 2016

Water supplies down in Massachusetts

Water supplies were down, triggering water restrictions in numerous Massachusetts communities.  Of the 178 municipalities or water districts in the state 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.

178 communities implement water restrictions as drought continues, Massachusetts Municipal Association (Boston), Oct. 3, 2016

 

Please visit the Drought Impact Reporter for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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