Drought by area impacted is worst ever – though majority of US still drought free

From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln , a new record in the 12 year old drought monitor.

US sets drought monitor’s ‘exceptional drought’ record in July

Worst classification for drought in nearly 12 percent of contiguous US

US Drought Monitor, July 26, 2011

The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said.

Nearly 12 percent of the contiguous United States fell into the “exceptional” classification during the month, peaking at 11.96 percent on July 12. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor’s 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC.

The monitor uses a ranking system that begins at D0 (abnormal dryness) and moves through D1 (moderate drought), D2 (severe drought), D3 (extreme drought) and D4 (exceptional drought).

Exceptional drought’s impacts include widespread crop and pasture losses, as well as shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells, creating water emergencies.

Currently, 18 percent of the country is classified as under either extreme or exceptional drought, Fuchs said. Much of it is in the south, particularly Texas, where the entire state is experiencing drought — three-fourths considered exceptional.

The most recent drought monitor report, released late last week, indicated that 59 percent of the United States was drought-free, while 41 percent faced some form of abnormal dryness or drought. Two weeks ago, 64 percent of the country was drought-free.

Other states that are at least 85 percent abnormally dry or in drought according to the report include:

  • New Mexico (100 percent in drought, 48 percent exceptional)
  • Louisiana (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 33 percent exceptional)
  • Oklahoma (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 52 percent exceptional)
  • South Carolina (97 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 16 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Georgia (95 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 68 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Arkansas (96 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 6 percent extreme to exceptional)
  • Florida (89 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 20 percent extreme to exceptional)

In the next two to three weeks, some affected areas may see some improvement. The wake of Tropical Storm Don should result in rainfall in the central and western Gulf Coast states, but the degree of drought relief will depend upon the storm’s intensity, as well as its track and speed.

“Whenever there is a lot of moisture in a short period of time, the potential exists for rapid improvement,” Fuchs said. “But while that possibility exists, it won’t necessarily mean the end of drought in those areas. It will likely only improve by one drought category for those areas not impacted by any tropical storms or where drought related impacts improve.”

The drought monitor combines numeric measures of drought and experts’ best judgment into a weekly map. It is produced by the NDMC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and incorporates review from 300 climatologists, extension agents and others across the nation.

Each week the previous map is revised based on rain, snow and other events, observers’ reports of how drought is affecting crops, wildlife and other indicators.

###

To examine current and archived national, regional and state-by-state drought maps and conditions, go to http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

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114 thoughts on “Drought by area impacted is worst ever – though majority of US still drought free

  1. So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

  2. I see that the western part of New York is abnormally dry.

    Right.

    After the wettest spring on record (over 8″ in May when the normal is 3.35″) we got relief with near normal months in June and July (only 12% below normal). But everything is still very lush and green and believe me, the ground is still very wet. Not moist … wet !!

    Must be that the gods have choosen to tinkle repeatedly in my backyard.

  3. LA Guy,

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

  4. Drought is not related to global temperatures. Back in the chilly 1970s, we had a 3 month drought in Maine. I mowed the lawn in May, did not have to mow again, and left at the end of August.

    The ENSO cycles tend to be followed by droughts in the South and Northeast while the West is cold.

  5. Smokey says:
    August 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    LA Guy,
    So how long before you start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    I see a closer correlation between postal rates and CO2 than between CO2 and temperature. I never knew postal rates drove CO2–is it all the driving around delivering and pickup up mail?

  6. Ha! Come talk to me after 11 years of drought. But like all natural cycles, the last La Nina broke its back and now we are lush again (Australia).

  7. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?
    ==============================================================
    As soon as you guys show how droughts shouldn’t occur at some position on the globe on a re-occurring basis. Is it that all alarmists think so linearly?

    lol, Worst evuh!!! Well, worst ever in the whole 12 years or so of us keeping track of such stuff in such locations. LA Guy, you people on the weird coast are a riot!! But, I suppose if you’re 12 y/o, this would be an eye opener.

  8. when i was a kid in north eastern montana (poplar/wolfpoint) the farmers there talked about an 8 year boom&bust cycle. they would have one year of terrible drought and one year of “bumper crops” and the rest would be soso. after fifty years of observing from a distance and that without that much interest it would seem to me that these guys are seeing about the same cycle but perhaps a bit longer.

    c

  9. But on a serious note, the vast majority of Mexico is suffering from the same drought. Check it out here: http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html
    (Sorry for the length of the URL; apparently big droughts warrant big URLs.)

    Also play with the D[r]ought Assessment Period option on the left to see the length of impact.

  10. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    Obviously, you must only be 12 yrs. old (the years of reference.) Anyone older would know more climate history! [trimmed Robt]

  11. I’m living in the Panhandle portion of Florida where it’s supposed to be extreme. I’m not sure where they’re getting that finding…for the past two or three weeks we’ve had rain in the early afternoon to early evening. Usually this type of rain doesn’t amount to much, but this year the rain starts out as frog stranglers for about half an hour and then relents to a steady heavy rain for about an hour. I haven’t been measuring the actual rain fall, but it seems to be high (my grass certainly likes it) so what actually constitutes a drought?

  12. Anthony, I must say that worst “ever” cannot be supported on the basis of this drought monitor or any analysis, as “ever” implies since any time in the last 4.5 billion years at least, assuming the Earth had to exist before there could be drought ;) but of course observational records of US precipitation and temperature that cover the country adequately go back maybe a hundred and some years. The “drought monitor” goes back 12, apparently.

    At least a little perspective from a longer record, even if it isn’t directly comparable to the Drought Monitor record, is warranted. Here are some charts of “severe to extreme” and “moderate to extreme” drought areas, sadly none of just the “extreme” category:

    Clearly by these measures drought extents going back earlier than 12 years indicate much more widespread drought in the past.

  13. We have had normal rains in a lot of areas. The distribution has been the problem. In my state, part has had floods and part was extremely dry.

  14. Australia had years of severe drought, which led to wild claims of runaway climate change. Now they have had a few years of above average rainfall that the scientists claimed would not happen ever again. The weather, like climate, changes. History is full of examples of extreme weather. The main reason Mr McIntyre cannot get his hands on proxy reconstruction data is because it would show that there is nothing unusual occurring now. It has happened before and it will happen again. Folks in Texas know it gets hot in the summer. Sometimes real hot. They ain’t dumb.

  15. I live in Santa Fe, NM and it has, indeed, been a dry summer (and a rather dry winter) but in the last 16+ years I’ve seen it hotter and drier as well as cooler and wetter. We’re starting to get some typical late summer monsoonal rain, but it’s been a LONG time since we’ve had a good, day-long soaking rain. I spoke to a friend of mine from Lubbock this evening. He tells me it hasn’t rained there since last September.

  16. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm
    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    Well, I wish we could do more than talk about the possibility–like maybe a quantified, hence significant estimate of CO2 contribution. What? Are you saying that without the extra 130ppm CO2 this drought would not be happenning? Or would the area be smaller, or less intensely affected? Are droughts a new phenomenon? And are record droughts over a 10-year period of reckoning of any significance?

    Keep in mind that the Great Salt Lake rose faster this year than at any time on record (but volume wise the increase was less than in 1983 and ’84), that Lake Powell rose 50 feet this year, and there is still snow to melt this August in much of the Rockies. Is this flooding also novel, and to be attributed to AGW?

    Sorry, but “record” droughts like this don’t even register on my alarm gauge, and the fact that they do on yours only indicates to me a very shallow understanding of the problem. The Sahara was once savannah, and lately has shrunk again–in spite of all our CO2. –AGF

  17. we had several years of drought in parts of australia a while back, but the remedies were extremely costly, and were touted as necessary because CAGW meant normal rainfall patterns were a thing of the past. the water authorities were warned the Wivenhoe Dam level needed to be reduced in the weeks prior to the January floods, but the warnings were ignored. now:

    2 Aug: Australian: Hedley Thomas/Rosanne Barrett: Damages to flow from Wivenhoe dam breach
    THE Bligh government faces potentially huge damages claims from flooded residents and businesses after a finding by the Queensland floods inquiry that the operator of Wivenhoe Dam “breached” the official manual over the releases of water into the river system…
    It has recommended a “precautionary approach is best” and a reduction in the Wivenhoe Dam to 75 per cent of its supply level for drinking water if future weather forecasts are as serious as the forecasts that were made late last year.
    The inquiry’s finding that the manual was breached strips the owner and operator of the dam, the Queensland government and SEQWater, of legal indemnification and paves the way for claims for compensation.
    More than 17,000 homes and businesses were partially inundated at an estimated cost of $5 billion in the January floods. Many people are yet to return to their homes.
    The inquiry qualified its finding that “there was a failure to comply with the Wivenhoe manual” by observing that the flood engineers “were acting in the honest belief that the Wivenhoe manual did not” compel them to adopt a strategy based on forecast rainfall…
    During periods of very heavy rain and with more forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology, the engineers made relatively low releases based on a “no further rainfall” model instead of the manual’s requirement to be using “the best forecast rainfall”…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/damages-to-flow-from-wivenhoe-dam-breach/story-fn59niix-1226106273775

    12 Oct 2010: Australian: Andrew Fraser/Jared Owens: Water until 2018, and it didn’t cost $9bn
    DRENCHING rains have delivered southeast Queensland enough water to last until 2018 without another drop falling from the sky.
    However, the state is still paying for the $9 billion spent only two years ago for a water grid to “drought-proof” the region…
    Two years ago, southeast Queensland was in drought, prompting the Bligh government to spend $9 billion on a water grid to “drought-proof” the region, by introducing a recycled water scheme, raising the wall at the Hinze Dam and building a desalination plant on the Gold Coast.
    While there is currently eight years’ water supply in the dams, if this extra infrastructure were to keep operating, southeast Queensland would not run out of water until 2021…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/water-until-2018-and-it-didnt-cost-9bn/story-fn59niix-1225937390684

    the desal plant has been mothballed, the unnecessary recycled water scheme is a mystery with some water being pumped into the sea, some political talk of writing it off, and consumers in an absolute uproar over the high costs of water due to all this expenditure.

  18. LA Guy,

    I agree, the precipitous change from ~208,000ppm O2 down to a nearly suffocatingly fatal ~208,000ppm O2 is the difference between life and death. At ~208,000ppm O2, women weren’t allowed to vote. Now that we’ve dropped to ~208,000ppm O2 we allow blacks, women, and even dead people to vote. In 1899, under the old ~208,000ppm O2, the number of highway fatalities was less than 30. Now that we’ve lost almost 0,000ppm of O2 in the atmosphere, more than 40,000 people die in automobile accidents every year. I doubt that all of these changes could be pure coincidence.

  19. @Smokey,

    And, in your graph, remember that just a few years ago, those 1940’s temps were hotter than that peak 1998 temp. How soon we forget.

  20. Well, if this is due to human climate change then all those hurricanes also caused by that should clear it right up.

  21. @Myron Mesecke
    Are we supposed to be impressed by a whole 12 years?

    I’m sure the team scientists can come up with all kinds of paleo contrivances that show you whatever trend you would like over whatever timescale you would like. All you have to do is wave millions in grant money in front of their faces.

  22. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm
    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?
    ==================================================
    I couldn’t agree more. Now move out from LA right away – its a natural desert and you’re diverting water and power there in a very non sustainable way. And you have a huge deficit. Very bad.
    I feel better already.

  23. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor’s 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC…

    12 whole years!!!

    The monitor uses a ranking system that begins at D0 (abnormal dryness) and moves through D1 (moderate drought), D2 (severe drought), D3 (extreme drought) and D4 (exceptional drought).

    The trends of both D2-D3 and D2-D4 drought conditions are negative over the whole 12-yr record too… “A and not A” once again proves CAGW.

  24. LA, until it does something that hasn’t happened already in the past, or it happens at a frequency that is new….there isnt anything unique about this years drought problems other than its higher than average. One year does NOT make a trend.

    On that side note, its been a sucky summer here in NW Arkansas, still not close to breaking consecutive 100+ straight days…but its been a crappy summer for the kids…cant go anywhere outside without at least a couple bottles of water along for the ride. Im not old enough to have witnessed the old records for high temps around these parts…but tomorrows high of 112 here will be the hottest ive ever had to deal with personally. The record as far as I know is 113 for tomorrow. So it will be close…

    Strangely this Feb we broke the record cold temp at -18…so a record high would even things out lol. Oh yea, we also got 30 inches of snow in one night….they forecast for 3-4…so yes..its been a weird year…. I can understand why LA would think its Global warming..but until this happens often….you cant conclusively say anything about it…other than….hella weird.

  25. Well, you know, there’s a drought and it’s pretty bad, but dang — the worst in TWELVE Years? Goodness gracious! Heck, I’ve got underwear that old. :)

  26. Ah – so then by your own words anyone that says “but it is cold this month” or “we got a lot of snow” or “the rise in ocean / surface temperature didn’t got up in a straight line each and every year” will all quickly be dismissed then?

  27. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    When you guys can explain where the Anasazi indians got all the SUV’s that resulted in the drought that lasted from about 1118 – 1180 AD and then the drought that lasted from 1270-1274 and then a 14 year long drought from 1275 until 1290 which caused the chaco canyon culture to collapse.

    Drought is very common in the southwest and there are many recorded drought episodes that have lasted for many years and even decades.

    In short a 12 year history it absolutely meaningless. Let them collect this data for 50 -100 years then a “worst ever recorded” event would be at least worth noticing. After 200-500 years of records then it would be worth getting concerned about.

    You might try reading a little history of the American Southwest.

    Larry

  28. New record usage of electricity in the ERCOT-controlled area of Texas today (2011-08-01) too owing to the heat and ever-browner and parched landscape:

    66,945 MW at 16:40 CDT by my observation.

    Previous record was last year August 23rd 2010 at 65,776 MW.

    The number cited in the article below (66,867 MW) is lower than the number I observed from the ERCOT near real-time website (which has a 5 minute reporting bin/update cycle).

    http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/407

    .

  29. pat says:
    August 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    we had several years of drought in parts of australia a while back, but the remedies were extremely costly, and were touted as necessary because CAGW meant normal rainfall patterns were a thing of the past. the water authorities were warned the Wivenhoe Dam level needed to be reduced in the weeks prior to the January floods, but the warnings were ignored. now:

    2 Aug: Australian: Hedley Thomas/Rosanne Barrett: Damages to flow from Wivenhoe dam breach

    This deserves a thread of its own.

  30. Chris says:
    “Strangely this Feb we broke the record cold temp at -18…so a record high would even things out lol. ”

    so it’s just average temps there? aren’t statistics fun!
    heh. that’s why i’m so impressed by a ‘global temperature average’. so meaningful.
    :)

  31. Worst drought in 12 years… This actually makes me laugh. I can see it already. Next year it will be a drought (somewhere) that is in the top 10 since measurements began (13 years at that point). And then the next year we will have (somewhere) the 2nd worst drought since measurements began… and so on. Just like the ice measurements which extend a whole 30+ years – except with drought measurements you can pick your spot, you are not limited to a non-cooperative location.

    Is a science class no longer required to graduate highschool? (I mean this; I am not being sarcastic – I don’t understand how people have so little understanding of data collection or statistics)

  32. We had a bad case of drought in California in 1976-77, and some have never quite gotten over the complex it gave them. So what happened in 1978? Big rains filled up the reservoirs in 6 months.
    If one is to look deeper into dry & wet cycles, the Palmer maps going back a 100 years are the place.
    The reality of 2011 for the US is that the major portion of the country had ample to way too much precipitation. Stands to reason that some areas had to get the short end of the rain guage.

  33. LA Guy, volcanoes change the makeup of the atmosphere much more. But we are absolutely not supposed to understand that, those charlatans with the big agenda want us all to suffer debt collapses believing their bullcrap.
    Yes, we may have a dust bowl in our future. But just like the last one it will be the result of the change of the makeup of the atmosphere from the volcanoes, not anything else. We are pretty much at 1930’s levels again. It’s been slowly getting there since 1995. Understood? Brian, you got a copy? Like talking to a box of rocks…

  34. Subtle indications (hottest ever temperatures recorded in X) repeated in the main stream media (and other places: Discovery Channel’s latest “Shark Week” programming mentioned global warming as a reason for something or other) serve to reinforce the meme.

    And a meme is hard to kill.

  35. If a person lives in a desert and the weather most often is what one would expect for a desert, is that a drought or does that person perhaps not know what “desert Southwest” means? I think it is remarkable the Anasazi figured it out long ago and moved away from there.

    The scoring in the observation vs models contest:
    Advantage observation.

    Anyone care to guess the acreage of rain forest within 1000 miles of H[o]uston?

  36. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    I don’t think the people here will. It’s too bad though, as the trend for the data 2000-present indicates that CO2 must be decreasing drought. Trends (%/week) as follows:

    No drought: +0.019%/week
    D0-D4: -0.019%/week
    D1-D4: -0.025%/week
    D2-D4: -0.020%/week
    D3-D4: -0.009%/week
    D4: 0.000%/week

    So I guess we should all hope you’re right because increasing CO2 corresponds to decreasing drought using the longest-term trends that one can get with this data set (actually I need to dig up the archived 1999 data that wasn’t available in the table I got this data from). One cherry-picked drought in 2011 isn’t enough to change the trend from the rest of the data. Still though, I think you’re wrong and the CO2 has had an insignificant effect on drought.

    -Scott

  37. Its o.k. LA guy just hopes that his “evidence” will get your government to bring in a carbon tax to intimidate the weather cycle, stop droughts, floods, snow, heat, cold dead in its tracks, course it will cost multi Trillions of dollars that you don’t have. Whatever, its so urgent that you bankrupt yourselves to appease Gaia or whatever he worships this month, next month he will be advocating something quite different.

    Sorry LA guy fat hope that will happen as Australia’s economy gets set to implode, one demonstrative fool is enough to wake up the rest of the world that the problem really only exists in your mind. The truly sad part is so much was wasted and so little will be achieved.

    Teacher to weather – enough! sit in the corner until you do as I tell you – hint, try that on the ocean waves……….

  38. Rhoda Ramirez says:
    August 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    “I’m living in the Panhandle portion of Florida where it’s supposed to be extreme. I’m not sure where they’re getting that finding.”

    I agree. I even had one spat about 5 weeks ago of 2 1/2 inches in thirty minutes. (localized, and also in the Panhandle). Last week I had to go through three different thunderstorms in 120 miles of driving.

    Personally, I quit looking at drought monitor five years ago due to the bizarre drought declarations that they make.

  39. Robert of Texas says:
    August 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm
    Worst drought in 12 years…

    That should mean 13 years ago there was a drought far worse than this year.
    And if next years is a lesser drought in the same place, then the headlines could be :
    “Worst drought since last year”.
    Kind of loses it’s meaning, doesn’t it?

  40. After watching this lecture given by a CERN scientist on the CLOUD experiment concerning the effects of cosmic rays on cloud coverage and climate I can´t see how anyone can still claim human CO2 has much to do about global warming/climate change
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNph-bX5iWo (part 1)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEKD4tLf0-I (part 2)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OulcequIpu8 (part 3)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkPd7NjOTIQ (part 4)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPWGzZeUdM0 (part 5)

  41. Hilarious article Anthony, thanks.
    12 years of records huh? Yeah, thats a great ” proxy”. Throw in some bristlecone proxies while we’re at it and theyve guranteed funding for another decade.

    As for LA Guy’s and Brian’s pathetic attempts at ” hit and divert” posting, they arent even worth replying to. Maybe if they can pull some evidence to accompany their attacks then maybe someone will listen. Wouldn’t count on it though.

  42. “…experts’ best judgment”

    Sorry but I have developed a “Do Not Trust, Must Verify” attitude to any climate related science. I do no trust that the judgment from these experts is not biased toward AWG.

  43. Well looking at the map Shelby County Tennessee is supposed to be in drought, the small streams are still full of water meaning the water table is still very high and we have lots of rainfall thanks to thunderstorms about once a week or more.
    Last year the streams had dried up completely and the water table was lower. Just a personal observation it is hard to be in drought with such high atmospheric water content here in the sub tropics.

  44. Apologies in advance!
    rbateman, I remember the CA drought of 1976-77. Everyone was talking about it. I was talking with an “older farmer”, in his late 50s (well, heck! I was 25), who told a story about a REALLY HOT summer in the Central Valley some 20 years before. He said, “It got so hot, my hogs all melted and the rendered fat ran into the fields, popping all my corn!” He thought all the hoopla about drought was silly. He said it would rain again. Sure enough, it did!

    Sorry if you’ve heard his story 1000 times before. Still makes me laugh!

  45. This map claims mid-New Hampshire is “abnormally dry” yet the vernal pools in the forest are deeper than normal for this time of year, there is no drying of grass or other ground cover, and temperatures are below normal.

  46. Sure is dry in my location. Looks like there will be no rain at all today, making it the driest day in the last twelve days. Stop the CO2 quick before my tomato plants wither away.

  47. @ Rbateman
    “We had a bad case of drought in California in 1976-77, and some have never quite gotten over the complex it gave them. So what happened in 1978? Big rains filled up the reservoirs in 6 months.”

    LOL.. you guys have it sooo easy over there.. Queensland had a seven year drought, and then rains that filled the reservoirs in 2 days.. and kept filling and filling……and filling !!

  48. You think this is bad? Twelve years ago, when the “drought monitor” first started, everyplace set a record!!!

    Smokey: Great chart! We knew, of course, that higher temperatures caused higher CO2 (“Henry’s Law”, innit?), but I had no idea that higher temperatures had such an effect on Postal rates!

    Best,
    Frank

  49. @Scott
    “Still though, I think you’re wrong and the CO2 has had an insignificant effect on drought”

    Depends on how you define drought. If drought a shortage of water for plant growth, then, as we know, CO2 allows plant to be more water efficient,. This implies that a rise in CO2 would mean a lessening of a drought effect.

    more CO2 = many benefits !!!

    Plants LUV CO2. Yet the (so called) Green want to starve plant life, and chop down trees and birds to install wind turbines.. try to figure out that bit of lunacy, I can’t !!

  50. @higley7 August 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm “Drought is not related to global temperatures.”

    More precisely, higley7, warming does not cause drought. It’s drought that causes warming. Cycles of droughts and floods are driven by natural conditions linked, for example, to the Southern Oscillation Index.

    As hydrologist and climate specialist, Professor Stewart Franks, has explained:

    “…this is a confusion of the well known physics of evaporation – as higher air temperatures are driven by the lack of evaporation (as occurs during drought)…

    Of course, when there is a deficit of rainfall, this tends to be accompanied by less cloud-cover, hence more sunshine, which does increase the energy available for evaporation, but as soil moisture is low, the bulk of the energy goes into heating the near-surface atmosphere and hence higher air temperatures.”

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/02/droughtgate_study_finds_ipcc_h_1.html

  51. I see. So you can establish a global trend from 12 years of localised drought data but you cannot dismiss a global trend by using 11 years of global satellite data. Got it. Thanks.

  52. At least Brian Fuchs was smart enough to leave off the “since records began” tag. As most have pointed out 12 years is a pretty paltry length of time to make any judgements. 12 years, a history? Puurrrleeeese! It’s all in the headlines folks, “worst storm since records began,” worst drought since whenever”, “the highest wind speeds ever recorded – since………..!”. They always caveat themselves somewhere down the line,shooting that silly gun off again into their poor little feet.

  53. Texas is at the same latitude as the northern Sahara. It has always been a dry area. What makes it worse is there is the population explosion and the very high draw on the low water levels.

  54. RockyRoad says:
    August 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm
    But on a serious note, the vast majority of Mexico is suffering from the same drought. Check it out here: http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html
    (Sorry for the length of the URL; apparently big droughts warrant big URLs.)

    Also play with the D[r]ought Assessment Period option on the left to see the length of impact.

    It is kind of interesting that the Global Drought monitor site shows the severity of drought in Mexico and the American Southwest declining as you scan down to the shortest term, with the peak severity and extent on the 9 month map, while the US Drought Monitor’s 12 week animation shows the trend as reversed. I would tend to classify both as sources of information rather than data and not highly reliable information at that. I first came across the GDM site almost 2 years ago and have visited it fairly regularly ever since. Their longest timescale maps are only 36 months, but over the time I’ve been visiting the site which would cover nearly five years in total, the one area of the globe which has consistently had the highest percent in both area and severity of drought has been Greenland, which puts a slightly different spin on all those studies about the accelerating decline in the mass balance of the ice sheet there. Especially since, from what I’ve seen, none of them seem to include this factor in their calculations.

  55. Anthony:

    Thankyou for this essay. I write to ask a question which it raises, and – to be clear – I state that the question is serious (i.e. not some silly Brian-type rhetoric).

    The essay shows the spread of the existing drought over the US but – as several comments in this thread state – it provides no context in which to evaluate this information.

    I note that timetochooseagain (at August 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm ) links to graphs of annual precipitation for the contiguous USA, and OK S. provides a link (at August 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm ) to precipitation in Oklahoma over the past century.

    But – to the amusement of many – the data set in your essay is only 12 years long.

    I understand there have been State Climatologists in the US for decades. So, it seems reasonable to suppose that most (perhaps all) of the drought-affected States each has had a State Climatologist for decades and, therefore, has a record of annual precipitation measured for decades. I note the link to “current and archived national, regional and state-by-state drought maps and conditions” in your essay, but it does not seem to provide State-by-State records of historic precipitation over several decades (if it does then I failed to find those records).

    So, my question is:

    Is there a link to a collated set of graphs of precipitation for each State now affected by drought similar to that which OK S provides for Oklahoma and, if so, what is it?

    Thanking you in advance for an answer.

    Richard

  56. We were told we had a drought in the South of England back in May. Since then June and July have been a total washout. Folk are now hoping August will go back to being a drought as they are fed up with the rain!

  57. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Ah – so then by your own words anyone that says “but it is cold this month” or “we got a lot of snow” or “the rise in ocean / surface temperature didn’t got up in a straight line each and every year” will all quickly be dismissed then?

    Can you say “strawman arguments”, LA?
    I knew you could.
    Does your Mommy know you’re here?

  58. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    Uh, ever heard of the Dust Bowl? It may have been edited out of history books because it is inconvenient for the message, but when I was growing up, that was part of my US history lesson. So, since drought has BEEN WORSE IN THE PAST and since this pattern is normal with La Nina, how do you arrive at the conclusion that this is because of us humans?

    If it is dry for almost every La Nina, it isn’t humans, it is the effect from La Nina. Conditions are worse because this is a multi-year La Nina. It has lasted longer than ones of the past. So, La Nina makes it dry and hot in the central and eastern US and since it is lasting longer than ones of the recent past, this is to be completely expected. I suggest you become the bane of climate scientists and actually do research. The truth shall set you free.

  59. According to the USDA map, we live smack in the middle of “exceptional” (D4) drought conditions.
    Which is… well, not true. This year is actually greener than most.
    Why should I believe anything feds say?

  60. Look at where the central part of the drought is. If anyone has driven through there, you’ll remember that much of that area is…
    the desert.

  61. Of course, there was the 300-year Great Drought of the American Southwest, from about 1150 to 1450 AD, forcing the Puebloans to migrate. The problem with Alarmists (well, one of them, anyway) is a complete lack of historical perspective. That, and an apparent inability to think rationally. I blame the schools.

  62. I’ve seen the drought-map of the US for the summer of 1933, & the present map is nowhere as bad, especially thru the presently reasonably moist mid-west & Ohio valley. There were also forest-fires in the Appalachians during the 1933 summer — unprecedented.

    Not even close.

  63. This is a ridiculous conversation. The alarmists need to make up their minds….. Does a warming world cause more or less precipitation? Didn’t we just go through a winter full of snow and the alarmists told us that a warmer planet would cause more precipitation? Well, yes, I do recall those sentiments being expressed. Or, are they going with the dreaded droughtflood, a derivative of warmcold?

  64. I have to agree with the rest of the commentors. “Worst Ever” implies worse than the Dust bowl, a “Sahara in the making” according to contemporary accounts. In Houston, the grass is still green after the occasional rain, though further west is more dry. Don was a nice watering, even though it went South towards Laredo instead of North to Austin.

    Black Flag, actually most of that land should be prairie, dry but far from desert. The desert doesn’t hit until after you pass Amarillo and go towards El Paso.

  65. The problem is that the new drought monitor takes into accont human factors. Like increased ground water usage because were not allowed to build new resevoirs, or maintaining average water flows in the Chattahochee river to protect zebra mussels (depletes Lake Sydney Lanier), or manmade flood events on the Colorado for riparian health (depletes Lake Powel). Plus many more. Do the words “self-fullfilling phrophecy” seem to be wafting in the air.

  66. Fear not! We will beat the double wide dwelling, toothless Flyover hicks and their Faux News puppeteers into submission! We are the THUGS of the Temples of Syrynx, our great computers, fill the hallowed halls … we KNOW BETTER! /sarc

    “High temperatures scorch Midwest, South!!!!”

  67. WooHoo!
    We got about 0.5″ here in central NM over the past few days, finally bumping us over 1″ for the year (we were under 0.2″ up through June).

    Good thing is all the weeds refused to sprout.

  68. The on-the-spot reports here that areas labelled as drought-stricken by the “US Drought Monitor” are actually getting lots of rain and are very green should tell you all you need to know about the validity and provenance of its chart.

    Pure bushwah PR. ‘On whose behalf?’, one wonders.

  69. Why is this such a surprise? Most certainly this isn’t caused by AGW. It’s called the Hydrology Cycle. Look at the state of the PDO and AMO. IF you take a look at a composite of years featuring a -PDO and +AMO , Texas is on par for drought/Parts of the SW, and the Arklatecs are due. Long Term Drought Possibilities, Right now the PDO is Generally Negative while the AMO is Positive. Persistence of this pattern almost always brings hard droughts to TX, OK, NM, AR, LA, and Parts of AZ/KS. This is what is occurring now. IF the AMO Stays Positive and Persists while the PDO goes consistently Positive down the road, the chances of another dust bowl type event within the next 10-15 years is possible. I’m not talking about just the south central parts of the country, which is occurring now. When the PDO turns Positive down (with +AMO only) the road, the current drought now will make a soil moisture/arid periphery bridge to parts of the SE, Upper MW, and the Central/Upper Plain states. Allowing them to dry out much quickly…Dry High’s will rue the day… It’s just cycles…

  70. According to Territorial records, the drought of 1850(ish) – 1865(ish) in eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle was both long lasting and severe. And if you want to see a real drought, look at the Altithermal / Atlantic Climate Period and it’s apparent effects in what is now Texas and Oklahoma (and other places). Three thousand years of aridity, humans moved east or up into the Rocky Mountains, et cetera, et cetera.

    That said, it’s miserable enough as it is up on the High Plains of Texas. The lawn is not quite ready for FEMA assistance, but I swear the hawthorn tree in the front yard tried to squeeze a passing dog dry yesterday evening!

  71. There is a reason why Columbus and after him Conquistadors and British explorers found North America to be very underdeveloped. Mega droughts. We have not seen anything yet!

  72. In the 1930’s the WHOLE west was dry. The Tillamook Burn. The Dustbowl. Cattle dying in the fields. this happened. It was warmer and dryer then. Little effect form UHE either.Yet in 1933, the record low temp for Oregon (Seneca at -58f as I recall) was set. 12 years is a gnat’s eyelash.

  73. What am I to think of a map that says that there is no drought at all in e.g. Nevada?
    Of course it is to show drier than normal, but if a desert is considered not suffering from drought, then the entire exercise is somewhat pointless. By that token, even if an area is considered a drought area, it may still be wet as hell, all it says is less wet than on average.

    It does not tell us about any area being, or being at risk of becoming arid. Or does it?

  74. timetochooseagain:

    Please accept my sincere thanks for the link you provide for me in your post at August 2, 2011 at 6:24 am.

    That is exactly what I wanted.

    Richard

  75. I can’t stop from laughing.
    This guy, “LA Guy” writes some stupid two liners. All you guys break your heads trying to respond to that. Reminds me of a little boy throwing a small stone in the middle of a bunch of cattle, and all hell breaks loose.

    this guy is getting a huge kick out of tweaking you all???

    On the flipside, i learnt a lot from all those charts and data. There really is nothing unusual going on… except, as always, the good folks in the government throw “worst ever” nonsense so often. It is a disgrace we pay these guys’ salaries.

  76. suyts says:
    August 2, 2011 at 7:10 am
    This is a ridiculous conversation. The alarmists need to make up their minds….. Does a warming world cause more or less precipitation? Didn’t we just go through a winter full of snow and the alarmists told us that a warmer planet would cause more precipitation? Well, yes, I do recall those sentiments being expressed. Or, are they going with the dreaded droughtflood, a derivative of warmcold?

    why make up their minds? when AGW causes EVERYTHING…/sarc

  77. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    The exact second you show us some EVIDENCE.

  78. LA Guy says:
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    So how long before you guys start acknowledging that this could be related to how we’re changing the make up of the earth’s atmosphere?

    “climate myopia” or climate “disruption”? Better come better armed with facts

  79. An interesting pattern on that map, assuming it bears any relationship to reality. Normally droughts are worst in the center of continents, which makes sense. The 1930’s drought was perfectly centered in North America.

    On this map, all the drought areas directly border oceans or Great Lakes.

  80. A little ditty from 1958 (Merry Minuet):
    They’re rioting in Africa
    They’re starving in Spain
    There’s hurricanes in Florida
    And Texas needs rain

  81. It’s worse than you thought LA Guy.

    In the last twelve years there have been more than 49% with larger than average drought conditions and nearly as many with below average drought conditions (Extreme drought events). The NWS is reporting a high correlation of both higher than average events coupled with below average events. It’s only a matter of time before all drought events will fit within a six sigma statistical range!

    Our only hope is the abundance of salty tears being produced by the environmentally minded sector of the public over inadequate recycling. /sarc

  82. New record higher temperature in Dallas, TX: 109 bypassing the old record of 106 deg or so …

    Also a new record set for power consumption in the ERCOT control region within Texas: 67,949 MW is the highest value observed so far and this number could go higher (peak consumption is usually around 5 PM CDT and it’s only just after 4 PM now).

    .

  83. Jim,

    It’s hotter than normal in Texas? Well, it’s colder than normal all along the Pacific coast. Currently 77°F at my house. In August it would typically be ≈90°F here.

  84. ‘What’s all the hubbub Bub?’- Citizen
    ‘Its worse than we thought !’ – Alarmist

    This mantra continues to become more pronounced and more prolific with each passing day.
    The alarmist has shed any pride they may have had and decided to throw a gauntlet of dis-information in a attempt to drowning the voice of the skeptic and one of reason.

    This report suggests that 12% of the Lower 48 is ‘exceptional’, but fails to say what percentage is sever or extreme. But instead says 41% of the Lower 48 is abnormally dry.

    In 2002, another drought plagued the US. The news then was this:
    Drought, abnormally dry weather hits 49 states.

    There was no announcement then of any exceptional drought percentage. Instead, the news was, “Roughly 36 percent of the country is covered by one of four drought categories, which range from “moderate” to “exceptional,”

    I then tried to locate previous press releases by UNL and I discovered that this was their first and only on drought conditions.
    Go figure. In 12 years of data collection of droughts, only now does the UNL write a press release.
    To claim that the current drought is more exceptional than any other in the previous 12 years is a stretch of the imagination.

    2002 can be considered worse than 2011 and I’ll let you be the judge.

    Here are two images from droughtmonitor for July, 2002, and again here for July, 2011.

    While it might be considered that there is a greater percentage of just ‘exceptional’ drought in 2011, the percentage above severe is greater in 2002 than 2011. Considerably so.
    In 2002, most of the drought was centered over the Western U.S., effecting reservoirs, basins, and waterways that supplies a vast majority with water to non-localized communities. The current drought in 2011 is centered over Texas that most consider to be an area drought prone, with very little impact on water supplies in regions beyond its locality.

    Something else to consider is the amount of precipitation for the rest of the Lower 48. In 2002, nearly every state suffered some form of drought. In 2011 a greater number of states experienced more precipitation on average, while only a few states had experienced less precipitation or drought on average.

    To describe what I mean, I’ll use data from the NCDC, using the PDSI(Palmer Drought Severity Index)

    Here is a graph from July, 2002
    You’ll notice that every state west of the Red River, and nearly every state along the east coast suffers from severe or extreme drought. Few states hardly show any positive precipitation or moisture.

    Here is the latest PDSI image from NCDC.
    It is quite apparent that there is a far greater area that is either very moist or extremely moist, as opposed to an area having moderate/severe/extreme drought.

    What we can expect over the next few months is that these drought stricken areas, surrounding Texas, can soon draw water from the rivers and waterways that flow from these extremely moist northern and westerly states.

    That could not be said for 2002 when the water basins of the western US suffered the impact of drought and was unable to provide sufficient water to those localities they supplied.

    Lake Mead comes to mind.

    This year, with the record snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and the projected 50-60 feet of additional water in the lake, it is safe to say that Lake Mead and other reservoirs like it, can now safely supply its customers for years to come.

    What I would like to suggest to everyone that is tired of the, ‘Its worse than we thought’ mantra of the alarmist, is to start replying to them by saying, “Hey Mr. Warmista. We are on to you.”

  85. Smokey says on August 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm: “It’s hotter than normal in Texas?”

    This year it is a little bit warmer … and after +45 some odd days straight (in this part of the state) of near and above 100 deg temps the parched, dry landscape and stressed “Flora” aren’t able to provide much ‘resistance’ (evaporative cooling) to the unrelenting insolation … dew points are ranging from 52 to 60 deg F around the area today; normally we see 10 more points (62 to 70 deg F dew point) on that value …

    What I wouldn’t do to see *only* a 90 degree day!

    .

  86. It was only 109 in Dallas?! It was 113 in Fort Smith, Arkansas today. Gonna be even hotter tomorrow! Must be those long range ocean breezes lol My non-offical outside temp sensor here in Centerton, Ar topped out at 108.4

    You wanna crap your pants? Check out the 10 day forecast for Tulsa, Oklahoma on weather.com. Man, id hate to live there.

  87. The thugs are putting on the full court press. Especially CNN and the NYT. A deluge of alarmist articles. Stephen Nash in the NYT, for example.

  88. Texas has had severe droughts before, and this one may not be the worst, but it’s bad. Really bad. We’re praying for tropical storms to hit the coast and move inland because no other relief seems to be in sight for a long time.

  89. In some regions of the US there was too much water, in other regions there was a serious lack of water. For Texas it is important to create a buffer to bridge periodes of drought. The best place of this lake has to be explored. There would be a bonus: lakes have a cooling capacity!

  90. In Central MN we’ve had 20 inches over last 90 days, or 2/3 of our yearly total. Water standing in many fields and ditches.

  91. Drought? Seattle says Hi!

    We in the northwest are more than happy to take some of the droughts out of your hands, as we actually had a unusually cool summer so far.

    The cause was of course related. The high pressure in those other states, kept the clouds unusually long running over our state.

  92. It’s not just the worst drought recorded, it’s the 12th wettest year recorded!!!
    /sarc off
    Pitiful that people fall for this tripe…

  93. Rik Gheysens says on August 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    In some regions of the US there was too much water, in other regions there was a serious lack of water. For Texas it is important to create a buffer to bridge periodes of drought. …

    We are way ahead of you Rik!

    Thanks to planning by those who preceded us, we have quite a number of man-made ‘lakes’ we term reservoirs since there is only one natural ‘lake’ in Texas:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Reservoirs_in_Texas

    Present conditions – Surface Water Resources / Texas Water Conditions:

    http://midgewater.twdb.state.tx.us/Reservoirs/TWC/twcr.html

    .

  94. This is the worst drought and the hottest summer on record here in Amarillo. Our history only goes back to the 1880s, but since the instrument record began, its never been hotter or more dry. Then again, when Coronado led his expedition through this country in the 1590s no more than a few thousand people lived in the entire area which is now the Great State of Texas, which was over run with buffalo, but no people to eat them. There is only 1 natural lake in the entire state, hundred mile stretches between “rivers” which are frequently nothing more than dry river beds. Texas is a harsh country, always has been. The drought of the 1950s was worse than the dust bowl era drought of the dirty ’30s. That drought ended with the great blizzard of 1957, which buried houses up to the roof line under snow drifts. This year we have seen the weather shift from -4 one week to the 80s the very next week. The entire countryside go up in flames. Hell, I myself, have been fighting black boogers for at least the last 6 months caused by the dust and smoke. Go figure, the weather is mad as always, but that’s ok, keeps the Californians out. No offense to Anthony intended, just a lot of fruits and nuts in California.

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