Thursday, October 19, 2017

National Drought Mitigation Center

Drought and Climate for September 2016: Pockets of dryness persist

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

During September, two pockets of dryness remained (and in many places intensified) during the month. Temperatures remained warm and well above normal for the eastern half of the United States.  With some of the drought areas being impacted by above-normal precipitation in September, overall drought in the CONUS improved slightly from 19.51 to 19.44 percent; severe drought increased from 7.26 to 8.37 percent; extreme drought increased from 2.70 to 3.14 percent; and exceptional drought increased from 1.11 to 1.17 percent. There was no drought in Alaska and drought improved in Hawaii from 5.82 to 1.06 percent.

Drought Outlook

During October, the Monthly Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center projects that drought in the Southeast will expand and intensify during the month.  Most of the drought in the Northeast will persist, with areas along the southern flank showing improvement and potential drought removal, mostly in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Drought will persist in the West and southern Plains while potential for improvements exists over the High Plains and northern Rocky Mountains as well as the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Temperatures

September did not bring with it much of a cool down. Most areas east of the Missouri River Basin were warmer than normal, with departures of 2-4 degrees above normal; in some pockets in the Southeast, departures were 6-8 degrees above normal.  In the West, most areas were near normal or 2-3 degrees below normal for September and most areas along the Rocky Mountains were near normal.  In Hawaii, most temperatures were near normal to slightly below normal, and in Alaska, temperatures were generally 2-4 degrees above normal.

Precipitation

Dryness remained over much of the Northeast and also from east Texas to Georgia.  Most of these areas recorded less than 50 percent of normal precipitation in September, with many areas, especially in the Southeast, less than 25 percent of normal.  It was also seasonally dry over much of the West Coast and central Rocky Mountains as the 2015-16 water year came to a close.  Wetter than normal conditions were recorded over the coastal regions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic, Northern Plains into the Great Basin, north central Texas, eastern Kansas, Iowa and southern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

 

Regional Overviews

Northeast

Temperatures in the Northeast were above normal for the entire region with departures generally 2-4 degrees above normal.  Dryness continued in the region as most areas recorded 50 percent or less moisture in September; the driest region was in southeast New York and into Connecticut.  Areas of Pennsylvania and western New York were normal to slightly above normal, and wetter conditions dominated farther south into the Mid-Atlantic.  Drought expanded to now include 40.99 percent of the region, compared to 27.29 percent in August.  Severe drought increased from 12.82 percent to 21.98 percent and extreme drought increased from 2.52 to 5.61 percent.

Southeast

Coastal areas of the region were wetter than normal, and this extended down into the Florida peninsula.  Farther west in the region, drought continued with a strong grip as most areas were less than 50 percent of normal precipitation for the month.  Over the last 3 months, precipitation for most of Georgia, Alabama, and eastern Mississippi has been 5-10 inches below normal.  Temperatures remained warmer than normal with most areas 2-4 degrees above normal for the month.  Near-normal temperatures were recorded in Florida.  Drought continued to expand and intensify, with 24.25 percent of the region in drought compared to 17.61 percent a month ago.  Severe drought increased from 7.85 to 13.15 percent; extreme drought increased from 1.41 to 4.69 percent; and exceptional drought was introduced, covering 0.48 percent of the region.

Movers & Shakers for September 2016
State

Percent area August 30, 2016

Percent area October 4, 2016 Status Percentage point change
Biggest increases in drought
Alabama 27.23
55.35
Moderate 28.12

9.52
23.05
Severe
13.53

1.51
8.97
Extreme 7.46

California 59.02
62.27
Severe
3.25

Connecticut
4.73
86.25 Severe 81.52

Georgia 28.20
37.46
Severe
9.26

5.27
15.01
Extreme
9.74

Maine
12.10
40.81 Moderate
28.71

2.74
26.75
Severe
24.01

0.02
8.35
Extreme 8.33

Massachusetts
91.12
98.15
Moderate
7.03

77.38
89.95
Severe 12.57

22.67
52.13
Extreme
29.46

Mississippi
13.77
49.26
Moderate
35.49
 
6.05 9.97
Severe
3.92

New Hampshire
31.57
62.44
Moderate
30.87
 
19.18
40.49
Severe
21.31
 
9.06
19.27
Extreme
10.21
 
New Jersey
11.41
56.02
Moderate
44.61
 
New York
53.01
66.94
Moderate
13.93
 
29.10
34.75
Severe
5.65
 
North Carolina
4.20
 18.20 Moderate
14.00
 
0.82
4.55
Severe
3.72
 
Oklahoma
14.06
20.15
Moderate
6.09
 
0.30
5.15
Severe
4.85
 
Rhode Island
15.87
84.31
Severe
68.44
 
South Carolina
2.12
5.12
Severe
3.00
 
Tennessee 13.66
27.21
Moderate
13.55
 
0.04
4.03
Extreme
3.99
 
Utah 5.04
14.21
Moderate
9.17
 
Vermont
1.20
43.99 Moderate
42.79

Biggest improvements in drought
Arizona
71.85
44.76
Moderate
27.09

Hawaii
5.82
1.06 Moderate
4.76

New Mexico
23.53
3.85
Moderate
19.68

Ohio
19.78
0
Moderate
19.78

South Dakota
35.13
 21.60 Moderate
13.53

13.45
1.33
Severe
12.12

Wyoming
29.95
19.64
Moderate
10.31

Midwest

Warm temperatures dominated the Midwest in September, with departures of 2-4 degrees above normal common.  Precipitation was mixed; many areas recorded normal to above-normal precipitation, and only a few pockets of dryness remain (mainly in southern Iowa, northeast Missouri, northern Illinois, Kentucky, southern Michigan, and northern Minnesota).  There are not too many complaints about the dryness, as it is harvest season and drought has not been a big concern in the region this year.  There is no longer any drought in the Midwest after 1.83 percent of the region was in drought at the end of last month.

High Plains

Like the Midwest, temperatures were above normal in the region, with departures of 1-3 degrees above normal.  Portions of North Dakota and Kansas were the wettest areas, as well as pockets in eastern Nebraska.  Most of the rest of the region was normal to slightly below normal, with departures generally less than 1.50 inches below normal.  Drought conditions in the Dakotas continue to improve slowly and pockets of dryness in the region have diminished.  Drought is impacting 7.78 percent of the region compared to 12.02 percent last month.  Severe drought improved from 3.87 to 1.51 percent and extreme drought was eliminated.

South

Dry conditions dominated the areas of east Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana during the month, with departures of up to 4 inches below normal.  Central and southwest Oklahoma into central Texas was wetter than normal, with departures of 2-4 inches above normal.  Outside of those areas receiving above-normal precipitation, temperatures were above normal, with most areas 2-4 degrees above normal and other areas near normal.  Drought conditions did expand during the month in the areas that were both hotter and drier than normal.  Drought expanded to now impact 10.06 percent of the region compared to 5.45 percent in August.  Severe drought increased from 1.28 to 2.42 percent and extreme and exceptional drought were introduced, now covering 0.32 percent and 0.11 percent of the region, respectively.

West

Warmer than normal temperatures in the Rocky Mountains and California and cooler than normal temperatures from the Pacific Northwest into the desert Southwest were observed in September.  Precipitation was widespread from Arizona and Utah up into much of the northern Rocky Mountains.  With some of this moisture, improvements were made to the overall drought status of the region, with drought improving from 34.75 to 30.14 percent of the region; severe drought increasing from 12.84 to 13.10 percent; extreme drought improving from 5.99 to 5.73 percent; and exceptional drought remaining unchanged.

 

 

 

 

September 2016 impact summary: California continues to face water challenges; wells running dry in Northeast

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

By Denise Gutzmer, NDMC Drought Impact Specialist

The Northeast and Southeast continued to suffer from a lack of rain through September in the wake of a hot, dry summer that withered crops and reduced yields.  Massachusetts had the most impacts, with 25 recorded in the Drought Impact Reporter for the month of September, documenting water shortages, restrictions on water use, and reduced crop yields.  California, too, had plenty of impacts, 23 of them listing ongoing water challenges as the state entered its sixth year of drought.  New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York followed with the next most impacts, attesting to how difficult the summer drought was in the Northeast.  

Wells running dry in Northeast

Public and private water supplies in the Northeast were threatened by ongoing drought.  In Massachusetts, a number of communities were relying more heavily on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority or requesting emergency water supplies as their own supplies dwindled with each passing day without rain.  Reports of dry shallow or hand-dug wells had emerged from Vermont to Connecticut, and gradually those reports became more common as more wells stopped yielding water.  Well drilling businesses were getting many more requests for help as more wells went dry.  In Kingston, N.H., the school opened its showers to neighbors who were running out of water.

Communities scramble to find emergency water sources, by Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe (Mass.), Sept. 15, 2016

Private wells from Vermont to Connecticut come up empty amid drought, by Michael Casey, Associated Press, New Haven Register (Conn.), Sept. 22, 2016

Well companies flooded with calls for new wells as drought persists, by Jason Schreiber, Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.), Sept. 25, 2016

As southern Maine’s drought deepens, homeowners with shallow dug wells get desperate, by Peter McGuire, Portland Press Herald (Maine), Sept 28, 2016

High school opens showers for drought victims, by Jason Schreiber, Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.), Sept. 19, 2016

Crop loss, damage noted in Northeast

September continued the dry streak that the Northeast saw all summer as the agricultural sector continued to tally its losses and hope for a better year in 2017.  Through August 19, drought had caused a crop loss of nearly $14 million in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency.  Across much of New England, apples were slightly smaller because of the drought. Apart from the dry weather, a warm February and March, followed by a cold spell in April, also hurt the apple crop.  There was concern that the Maine blueberry crop would be diminished by the weather, but the wild blueberry crop turned out better than expected.  The wild blueberry crop has been abundant the past two years, which has kept prices low, and another year of plentiful wild blueberries will continue to keep prices low. 

Mass. crop damage estimated at $14 Mil, aid available in four counties, by Colin A. Young, WWLP-22News (Chicopee, Mass.), Sept 6, 2016

New England apple crop smaller due to dryness, earlier cold, by Kathy McCormack, The Associated Press, The Brattelboro Reformer (Vt.), Sept. 4, 2016

Maine wild blueberry crop bigger than expected amid drought, by Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press, Sept. 20, 2016

New England's fall foliage season affected?

Concern that drought would dull New England’s autumn leaf colors or shorten the leaf-watching season bothered some, but hotels were booked full ahead of the fall season, so businesspeople were not terribly worried.  Some eastern Massachusetts trees were, however, unable to grow new leaves after gypsy moth caterpillars chewed leaves on 350,000 acres of trees after the stressful summer.

Dry Weather Could Shorten New England's Fall Foliage Season, by Lisa Rathke, The Associated Press, Sept. 4, 2016

California water conservation rate falls

Californians’ rate of water conservation fell for the third straight month in August, to 17.7 percent, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. The rate was 27 percent in August 2015. The trend was causing concern that relaxed water restrictions were allowing the public to drift away from strict conservation, which could lead the state to move back toward issuing firm guidance on the matter.  Water mandates were eased in June, allowing water districts more say in conservation in their districts.  

Weaker water conservation numbers prompt fears that California is going back to its old bad habits, by Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 5, 2016

Cyanobacteria present in many California lakes

More than 40 California lakes and waterways were infected with cyanobacteria, surprising people and water agencies with its prevalence. The total was almost twice the number (22) of cyanobacteria-affected water bodies in 2015.  State officials were more aware of the problem, as were lake operators, and more signs were being posted this year to warn the public of the danger to themselves and pets.

Toxic algae troubles many California lakes and waterways, by Denis Cuff, East Bay Times (San Jose, Calif.), Sept. 17. 2016

Catalina Island moves to stage 3 water rationing

With a worsening water situation on Catalina Island, Avalon water authorities moved to stage 3 rationing, requiring water customers to curb water use by 40 percent for those who rely on the island’s desalination plants and by 50 percent for those using groundwater.  In late September, Catalina Island’s main reservoir had fallen to 12 percent of capacity.  Restaurants continued to ship laundry to the mainland and serve food on paper plates and beverages in plastic cups to conserve water.

Despite desalinating water, floating it in by barge and taking short showers, Catalina islanders are told to cut back even more, by Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2016

Catalina Island surrounded by water yet hammered by drought, by Andrew Edwards, Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Oct. 2, 2016

Please visit the Drought Impact Reporter for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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