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We select interesting and representative drought stories from all over the U.S. and around the world. We group them into the same categories that the Drought Impact Reporter uses, as well as a few others.

Agriculture


Specialist urges caution in feeding baled cornstalks

Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal (Mo.), 10-11-2018

Affected Area: Missouri

Missouri farmers were warned to test baled cornstalks before feeding them to cattle because the droughty summer may have left them high in nitrates, according to University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Gene Schmitz.  Some stalks contained nearly four times the acceptable level of nitrates.


Drought hits local pumpkin patches hard

KMBC (Kansas City, Mo.), 10-3-2018

Affected Area: Eastern Kansas

A pumpkin grower in the Kansas City area was dismayed at the underdevelopment of his pumpkins as the dearth of rain prevented the pumpkins from growing.  Even his supplier was unable to produce pumpkins this year, due to drought.


2018’s ‘dry’ season was one for the record books

Chinook Observer (Wash.), 9-28-2018

Affected Area: Southwest Washington

After Long Beach Peninsula’s driest May to September period this year, some cranberry farmers were struggling to harvest the berries for lack of water.


Drought persists in Adirondacks as heavy rains stay south again

NewYorkUpstate.com (Albany), 9-27-2018

Affected Area: Northern Upstate New York

Dryness persisted and intensified in parts of northern Upstate New York, where farm fields were suffering from the lack of rain.  Hay and pasture production was down in the North Country, and corn was affected also.


Cotton farmers, ag experts hope for healthy yields despite dry spell

DecaturDaily.com (Ala.), 9-23-2018

Affected Area: Northern Alabama

The lack of rain in northern Alabama from the end of July through August hurt cotton yields.  Yields were expected to be very good in areas that had adequate rainfall.


Business & Industry


Mom and pop plant nurseries battling drought

KLBK & KAMC-TV EverythingLubbock.com (Texas), 8-8-2018

Affected Area: Lubbock, Texas

Plant nurseries in the Lubbock area were struggling to maintain their stock amid drought, with employees putting in extra time to water plants.


Bankers: Drought Still Burdening Rural Economy in 10 States

U.S. News & World Report, 8-17-2017

Affected Area: Plains and Midwest

The overall Rural Mainstreet Index for 10 Plains and Midwestern states rose from July’s 40.7 to 42.2 in August.  Any number below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.  Nearly 58 percent of bankers who participated in the August survey felt that drought conditions were negatively impacting agricultural products in their area.  Surveyors consulted bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.


Nestlé Faces Backlash Over Collecting Water From Drought-Stricken Southern California

CBS Los Angeles, 5-9-2017

Affected Area: Southern California

Activists continued to protest Nestlé’s use of springs in southern California as drought and the company’s sourcing of water on public land continues to rile the public.  Of the company’s 40 water sources in the U.S., 11 are in California.  Nestlé captures about 30 million gallons of water annually and pays the U.S. Forest Service just $524 for the permit.


The 102 million dead trees in California's forests are turning tree cutters into millionaires

Los Angeles Times, 12-14-2016

Affected Area: California

The southern Sierra Nevada was home to millions of dead trees, needing to be felled and removed for public safety and to reduce the amount of combustible material in the landscape, but the task of removing so many trees was daunting and costly. The Forest Service estimated that there were more than 24 million dead trees in the Fresno and Tulare County portion of the Sierra Nevada alone. Tree cutters, however, see prosperity in the dead trees.
The owner of a tree service said that he charged $1,700 daily for his services. His outfit was one of more than two dozen cutting dead trees along California 168 east of Fresno to Huntington Lake.

Well companies flooded with calls for new wells as drought persists

New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester), 9-25-2016

Affected Area: New Hampshire

The owner of a well-drilling business in Amherst said they had a backlog of three to four weeks, with the phone ringing steadily in the last two weeks and most calls coming from Hillsborough and Rockingham counties. A well driller based in Hudson reported getting quite a few calls from the Kingston area. An Epping well driller was getting calls from Barrington, Brentwood, Durham, Epping, Madbury and Nottingham.

Energy


Shifting power as drought continues in Southeast

KTUU-TV NBC 2 Anchorage (Alaska), 10-5-2018

Affected Area: Southeast Alaska

The city of Metlakatla was relying more on diesel rather than hydropower because rainfall has been far below normal, reducing hydropower generation. The high cost of diesel meant that energy costs doubled.


Under Pressure: Dams make less electricity in drought

KJCT-TV ABC 8 (Grand Junction, Colo.), 8-2-2018

Affected Area: Southwest Colorado

Low water storage in the Blue Mesa Dam resulted in the production of 22 percent less electricity from hydropower in July 2018 than during the same month in 2017.  The Morrow-Point Dam, downstream from Blue Mesa, made about 8 percent less electricity in July 2018 compared to July 2016.


Good weather expected to continue

Juneau Empire (Alaska), 7-26-2018

Affected Area: Southeast Alaska

Diesel power was in use on Prince of Wales Island because reservoirs were too low for power generation.  A fish die-off occurred near Petersburg as moderate drought affected the area.


A silver lining from California's drought: Water conservation led to reduced energy use and less pollution

Los Angeles Times, 1-12-2018

Affected Area: California

From June 2015 through April 2016, when Californians curbed their water use by 24.5 percent, or 524,000 million gallons of water, they also conserved a lot of electricity at the same time.  By using less water, they conserved 1830 gigawatt hours of electricity—enough to electrify 274,000 average homes for one year.


How hydroelectric power has roared back in California

San Francisco Chronicle, 3-20-2017

Affected Area: California

The recent years of drought caused a significant lull in hydropower production. Fifteen to 18 percent of California’s electricity generation typically comes from hydropower, but during the drought, hydropower generation dropped to less than 10 percent on average. The state turned to burning natural gas to make up the difference, driving up greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over what they would have been. Burning natural gas also cost Californians $2.4 billion more than they would have paid if hydropower production had been near normal.

Fire


Cal Fire says long wildfire season is the "new norm"

KMPH (Fresno, Calif.), 9-28-2018

Affected Area: California

California wildfires burned nearly three times as much land by the end of September as at the same point in 2017.  Some of the factors driving this trend were the heat that has extended into the fall, dry vegetation from previous drought years, and trees killed by bark beetles.


Colorado wildfire update: Heat, fall leaves and winds increase fire activity

The Denver Post, 9-19-2018

Affected Area: Colorado

The unusually warm, dry days of September were intensifying wildfires burning in Colorado.  Autumn leaves fell earlier than usual from drought-stricken trees, providing additional fuel for fires. 

The Bull Draw Fire, one of the largest wildfires burning in the Centennial State, exceeded 32,000 acres and was driven by the dry heat, wind and falling leaves in Montrose County.


Fire danger prompts target shooting restrictions on the Eldorado National Forest

YubaNet (Calif.), 9-7-2018

Affected Area: Eldorado National Forest, California

Recreational target shooting was prohibited in the Eldorado National Forest starting Sunday, Sept. 9, due to the extremely dry vegetation and elevated fire danger.


Utah experiencing worst wildfire season in 15 years

The Associated Press, 8-26-2018

Affected Area: Utah

Utah has experienced its worst fire season in 15 years as nearly 250 square miles and 370 structures burned since the start of the year.  Extreme drought contributed to the destruction after a winter of low snowpack.


California's largest fire ever keeps growing as winds fan flames

Los Angeles Times, 8-16-2018

Affected Area: Mendocino County, California

California’s largest fire, the Mendocino Complex fire, burned more than 364,000 acres, or 568 square miles, of rugged terrain. 


General Awareness


Climate scientist sees stage set for reprise of worst known drought, famine

Phys.org, 10-11-2018

Affected Area:

Climate change may make future droughts and famines worse than the Great Drought, which took place from 1875 to 1878 in Asia, Brazil and Africa, according to Deepti Singh, an assistant professor in Washington State University's School of the Environment.


Utah just experienced its driest year since scientists have kept records

The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), 10-10-2018

Affected Area: Utah

2018 was Utah’s driest water year in recorded history, going back 123 years.


Summer rainfall: Opposite extremes split the nation

The Washington Post, 9-26-2018

Affected Area: U.S.

West of the Continental Divide, rainfall was below average this summer, amounting to about a 10-inch deficit in southwest Colorado and western Montana.


Drought marks one of Central Oregon’s warmest summers

The Bulletin (Bend, Ore.), 9-24-2018

Affected Area: Oregon

Bend received less than one-fifth of an inch of rain between July 1 and the end of summer, for the fifth driest summer in recorded history.  Wickiup Reservoir held 2 percent of its 200,00 acre-feet capacity.


Oregon’s ‘extreme drought’ triples in size

Capital Press – Agriculture Weekly , 9-7-2018

Affected Area: Oregon

The amount of Oregon in extreme drought tripled to almost 22 percent, while in Washington, the area in severe drought nearly tripled to 17 percent.  In southwestern Oregon, farmers could not run irrigation pumps because creeks were too low.  Low springs and ponds prompted farmers to move cattle off pastures.


International


Big Drought in Australia linked to spike in gastro cases

Australian National University, 10-11-2018

Affected Area: Australia

Cases of cryptosporidiosis in Australia increased significantly during the Big Drought that ended in 2009, according to a study by the Australian National University, with infections decreasing once the drought ended.  Droughts reduced river volume and flow, potentially increasing the concentration of pathogens like those that cause gastrointestinal infections.


High chance of El Niño in Australia, worsening heat, bushfires and drought

The Guardian , 10-9-2018

Affected Area: Australia

With a 70 percent chance of El Niño weather conditions, heatwaves and bushfires will likely continue in Australia.  The country just had its driest September since records began in 1900.With a 70 percent chance of El Niño weather conditions, heatwaves and bushfires will likely continue in Australia.  The country just had its driest September since records began in 1900.


Drought-filled summer strains E.U. cereal harvest

World-Grain.com, 10-4-2018

Affected Area: Europe

Drought during the growing season caused Europe’s cereal production to drop to 8 percent below the five-year average, according to an outlook report published by the European Commission.  Wheat production was expected to be down 9 percent, compared to 2017.


WA grain ships east as drought resets industry

Bunker Ports News , 10-2-2018

Affected Area: Australia

Eastern Australia typically produces abundant grain, enough to export and use for animal stock feed and other uses.  However, this year with intense drought, grain from West Australia has been shipped east to meet demand in East Australia.


Germany’s potato harvest falls 25 percent after drought

Agriculture.com, 9-26-2018

Affected Area: Germany

Germany’s potato harvest was down by about one-fourth to 8.7 million tons after a summer of drought and heat.  Germany is also expected to become a net grain importer this fall.


Mitigation


Fire officials: Decision to close forests during the wildfire season paid off

Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com & KPNX-TV NBC 12 Phoenix, 10-4-2018

Affected Area: Arizona

Arizona fire officials felt good about their decision to close state and federal forests starting in May when the fire danger was unusually high, due to an historically dry winter, intense drought and an abundance of dry grasses ready to burn.  In 2018, only 156,317 acres of state land burned, compared to 412,746 acres in 2017.  Forests reopened in July after the monsoon season began.


California growers, researchers preparing for next drought

Capital Press - Agriculture Weekly (Salem, Ore.), 5-18-2017

Affected Area: California

Growers and researchers were working fervently to find ways to help California’s orchards, vineyards and row crops withstand the next drought with as little water as they can manage and yet thrive.  Subsurface drip irrigation, minimizing soil disturbance, leaving crop residue, diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops are some of the strategies for improving moisture retention and drought tolerance.


Will replacing thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants make L.A. hotter?

Los Angeles Times, 8-2-2016

Affected Area: California

If every lawn in Los Angeles were replaced with drought-tolerant vegetation, researchers from the University of Southern California found that the city’s overall temperature in July would increase up to 3.4 degrees during the day and decrease by about 5.4 degrees cooler during the night. The lower soil moisture changes the thermal properties of the soil.

San Luis Valley aquifer refills after years of drought, overuse

Santa Fe New Mexican, 6-11-2016

Affected Area: San Luis Valley in southern Colorado

A multiyear drought that began in 2002 in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado quickly drew down the region’s streams and water table, causing wells to go dry abruptly. The Rio Grande Water Conservation District and San Luis Valley water users created a subdistrict project to address the water problem of over appropriation and help the region to balance its water use. Farmers and ranchers paid $75 per acre-foot of groundwater they pumped, but also were compensated for fallowing parts of their fields, limiting water demand.
In the four years since the subdistrict project began in 2012, the aquifer is recovering. One-third less groundwater water being pumped than before the project, from more than 320,000 acre-feet prior to 2012 to about 200,000 acre-feet. Ten thousand acres that previously were used to cultivate thirsty alfalfa and potato crops were fallow. Stewards of the land continue to improve soil quality and were striving to grow more efficient crops as other ways to help the aquifer.

Central America tests drought-resistant 'miracle' beans

ReliefWeb, 12-1-2015

Affected Area: 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.

Plants & Wildlife


Countywide drought taking toll on honey bees

Waco Tribune-Herald (Texas), 10-6-2018

Affected Area: Texas

McLennan County beekeepers reported numerous lost hives and a reduction in honey production of up to 74 percent, after a historically dry summer.  Because nectar and pollen were scarce, bees could not make much honey and consumed what they had.


Arizona nonprofit helps wild horses cope with drought

Santa Fe New Mexican, 9-29-2018

Affected Area: Arizona

Volunteers with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group have been feeding wild horses along the Salt River for about four months because the horses had little grass to eat because last winter was dry.


State investigates trout die-off in Pecos River

Santa Fe New Mexican, 9-25-2018

Affected Area: New Mexico

Numerous dead brown trout were observed in the Pecos River between Cowles and Pecos, east of Santa Fe.  The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish were looking into the decline in brown and rainbow trout, which officials think is related to the current drought.  The flow of the Pecos River was about half of normal. 

Statewide, Game and Fish typically investigates from eight to 10 fish kills annually, but this year has already reviewed nearly 20 kills.


Drought Threatens Arizona’s Pinyon Pines

KNAU-FM NPR (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 9-25-2018

Affected Area: Arizona

Although drought is predicted to eradicate pinyon pines from Arizona, a researcher from Northern Arizona University was studying how the trees survive drought.  A particular moth trims the trees into a shrub shape, causes them to grow slowly and produce more female cones, but it seems that this care also prepares the trees to withstand drought.


BLM removes 153 wild horses from Emery County due to drought

Sun Advocate (Price, Utah), 9-18-2018

Affected Area: South central Utah

The Bureau of Land Management gathered and removed 153 wild horses from the Muddy Creek Herd Management Area in Emery County.  Drought conditions and overpopulation necessitated the removal of the animals.


Relief, Response, & Restrictions


Things to know: The plan to save the ailing Colorado River

The Associated Press, 10-10-2018

Affected Area: Colorado River Basin

Seven Southwestern states reached agreements on management of the Colorado River Basin as the region endured drought. California also agreed to water cuts earlier than legally required. The Upper Basin states will try to keep the level of Lake Powell at or above 3,525 feet above sea level, and the Lower Basin states will attempt to conserve more water. If Lake Mead falls below a certain level, Arizona will curb its water use by up to 9 percent, California by as much as 8 percent and Nevada by 3 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation foresees the chances of a shortfall in Lake Mead at 57 percent by 2020.


County court declares state of emergency

Ontario Argus Observer (Ore.), 10-4-2018

Affected Area: Southeast Oregon

The Malheur County Court declared a state of emergency for the county as drought caused severe economic damage to the agricultural sector.  In southern Malheur County, ranchers hauled water for their cattle when stock ponds went dry.  Low water flows for irrigation reduced hay production in 2018, as well as for 2019.  As meadows dried up, ranchers had to relocate their cattle.


$1 Million to Assist Drought-Stricken Missouri Communities

USAgNet (Marshfield, Wis.), 9-14-2018

Affected Area: Missouri

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources will give nearly $1 million to assist eight drought-affected communities in the northwest part of the state with their water systems.


Governor updates drought declarations in Kansas

KFDI (Wichita, Kan.), 9-11-2018

Affected Area: Kansas

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer updated the drought declarations to reflect the recent rainfall and improvement in drought conditions.  Fifty counties were in emergency status, and five were in watch status.


Drought conditions prompt emergency meeting of Utah officials

KSL.com (Salt Lake City, Utah), 9-10-2018

Affected Area: Utah

Utah’s Drought Review and Reporting Committee met and discussed the emergency disaster area, which included San Juan, Wayne, Carbon, Grand and Emery counties in the southeast and Box Elder County in the northwest.  Drought has affected tourism, wildlife, agriculture and the economy.


Research


Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture

Innovations-Report.com (Schmitten, Germany), 9-6-2018

Affected Area: Europe

Persistent and accumulated precipitation deficits decrease soil moisture within days and lower stream flows within weeks, while vegetation and crops may remain unaffected for months, found researchers from the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.


When it rains, snake bites soar

University of Colorado Boulder, 9-5-2018

Affected Area:

Rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles were more likely to bite during rainy spells rather than during episodes of drought, according to researchers from the University of Colorado. 


Two-degree warming may cause droughts in the Mediterranean region

Phys.org, 5-15-2018

Affected Area: Mediterranean

If climate change brings a temperature increase of 2 degrees or more, the probability of the Mediterranean region experiencing extremely dry decades will be five times higher than it is currently.


Scientists reveal drivers of prolonged spring-summer drought over North China

EurekAlert!, 5-7-2018

Affected Area: North China

Many prolonged spring-summer droughts occurred in North China when La Niña transitioned to El Niño following a winter with a negative North Pacific Oscillation.


How a Medieval Society Withstood Nearly 60 Years of Drought

The Atlantic, 5-4-2018

Affected Area: Mongolia

The Uighurs of the Central Asian steppe diversified their economy and increased trade amid a 67-year drought that occurred more than a millennium ago.


Society & Public Health


Receding shoreline of Lake Dillon reveals part of Summit County’s railroad history

Summit Daily News (Breckenridge-Dillon, Colo.), 10-11-2018

Affected Area: Colorado

The remains of railroad facilities at Dickey have emerged from the receding waters of Lake Dillon in Summit County.  Some of the visible artifacts were building foundations, pieces of bottles, rail spikes, connectors, coal chunks and the cement foundation of the water tower.


Lyme cases decline this summer, perhaps due to hot, dry weather

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine), 9-3-2018

Affected Area: Maine

Fewer cases of Lyme disease were reported in Maine this summer, with experts theorizing that the hot, dry weather was the reason, prompting ticks to enter a dormant state.  Deer tick surveys have found fewer ticks.


Lack of rain and dry conditions causing water main pipes to break across the area

KTRK-TV ABC 13 Houston (Texas), 8-29-2018

Affected Area: Near Houston, Texas

Heat and drought have caused a dramatic increase in water main breaks in Friendswood, just south of Houston.  The community has had 31 breaks in August, compared to just 11 breaks last summer and 16 breaks the summer before that.


Drought, groundwater loss sinks California land at alarming rate

Phys.org, 8-29-2018

Affected Area: Tulare Basin, central California

Land in the Tulare Basin in central California was sinking up to one half meter annually as drought and groundwater extraction exceed the rate of replenishment, according to researchers with Cornell University.


Midwest drought: Dry conditions taking a toll on Kansas City area foundations

KCTV-TV CBS 5 Kansas City (Mo.), 8-24-2018

Affected Area: Kansas City, Missouri

The soil is so dry 10 to 15 feet below homes in the Kansas City area that drywall and exteriors have begun cracking, windows were sticking out, and soil was pulling away from walls, according to foundation experts.  Foundation companies were receiving twice the normal call volume from people needing service.


Tourism & Recreation


Utah copes with drying streams, dying animals as drought tightens its grip — with no relief in sight

The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), 9-11-2018

Affected Area: Utah

The Utah Wildlife Board was increasing the number of big-game tags in 2018 to curb the population of hungry deer and elk anticipated to raid crops, given the degraded state of the animals' habitat, according to Mike Fowlks, director of the Division of Wildlife Resources.


Some River Rafting Companies Are Going With The Low-Flow

KRCC Radio Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 8-21-2018

Affected Area: Southern Colorado

Drought has affected outfitters and river guides in parts of southern Colorado as low flows changed the trips.  A guide for an outfitter near Cañon City in Fremont County noted that with low flows there were more obstacles in the river, more rocks and more maneuvering, creating more work.  He also mentioned that being paid by the trip, and not by the hour, meant that his paycheck was smaller. 

The Arkansas River was about one-third of its normal volume, with recreationists along its length in Fremont and La Plata counties benefitting from the Upper Arkansas Voluntary Flow Management program, in which water agencies try to release water at times to benefit those using the river.

An outfitter in Durango had to end river rafting trips because the Animas River was too low.


No target practice until fire danger abates

Chinook Observer (Wash.), 8-8-2018

Affected Area: Washington State

Target shooting was temporarily banned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on state-managed lands, due to the elevated fire danger from dry weather.


High stream temps prompt closures of Fraser, Colorado Rivers for first time in two decades

Sky-Hi News (Granby, Colo.), 7-31-2018

Affected Area: Grand County, Colorado

Low stream flows and high temperatures were threatening the survival of trout in Colorado’s streams, prompting Colorado Parks and Wildlife to close sections of the Fraser and Colorado rivers in Grand County.


Rafting outfitters feeling effects of drought, low water levels in Colorado

KMGH-TV ABC 7 Denver, 7-20-2018

Affected Area: Colorado

Drought and low flows on Colorado’s rivers and streams may bring an early end to the rafting season unless monsoon rains really pick up.  In Idaho Springs, just west of Denver, some outfitters were offering partial refunds to those who purchased advanced or intermediate trips weeks or months prior, when water levels were expected to be higher.


Water Supply & Quality


Drought continues to plague northern Vermont, leaving farms and wells dry

Vt. Digger.org (Montpelier, Vt.), 10-11-2018

Affected Area: Vermont

Water supplies continued to suffer in Vermont, with the communities of East Berkshire, Franklin and Smuggler’s Notch hauling water for public supplies.  Meanwhile, citizens of Jeffersonville, Newbury and Waterville were asked to conserve. 

Some Franklin County farmers, particularly dairy farmers, were hauling water as their supplies ran low.


A first-ever call on this Colorado river as water scarcity tightens

Mountain Town News (Arvada, Colo.), 10-10-2018

Affected Area: Northwest Colorado

The first ever call on the Yampa River ended the first week of October as demand and evaporative and transpiration losses abated.  The river’s call originally occurred on Aug. 22, with water rights since 1951 being ordered to end diversions until senior water rights holders had been satisfied.  The call was delayed to see if water releases improved river flows at Dinosaur National Monument.


Officials Are Asking Utahns To Stop Watering Their Lawns For The Rest Of The Year

KUSU-FM Utah Public Radio (Logan, Utah), 10-8-2018

Affected Area: Utah

The Utah Division of Water Resources urged Utahns to stop lawn watering for the remainder of the year to conserve water.  At present, 16 of Utah’s reservoirs were below 20 percent of capacity, and eight of those held less than 5 percent.


Wells are drying up in three northern county towns

Addison County Independent (Middlebury, Vt.), 10-4-2018

Affected Area: Addison County, Vermont

Wells began running dry in Ferrisburgh, Monkton and Starksboro in July and August as drought continued to affect Vermont.  The Ferrisburgh selectboard considered water shortage issues for town residents with private wells at an Oct. 2 meeting after officials received a few phone calls and emails. It was determined that the town did not have resources available to deal with the issue and that it was not an emergency.


Animas River appears to have hit all-time low

The Cortez Journal (Colo.), 10-3-2018

Affected Area: Southwest Colorado

The Animas River fell to a record low in the last week of September, with flows slipping below 100 cubic feet per second on Sept. 26.  This year appeared to be on track to be southwest Colorado’s second driest water year in recorded history.