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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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?

Really? Worse that the 1930’s? Worse than the Dust Bowl?
“the monitor’s 12-year history”
I think I see the problem here….

Leon Brozyna

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.

Myron Mesecke

Are we supposed to be impressed by a whole 12 years?

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?

Robb876

Hey smokey…. That’s one of your best charts yet….. 🙂

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.

RockyRoad

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?

Mike McMillan

My lawn applied for Federal funds on its own.
Mike in Houston

Dale

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).

James Sexton

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.

OK S.

Well, can’t speak to other states, but Oklahoma has been a lot drier for a lot longer over the last 100 years:
Precipitation history – Annual, Statewide.
OK S.

pk

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

RockyRoad

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.

G. Karst

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]

Bystander

“Extra dry weather in the southwest region of the United States is roasting production for farmers and ranchers.
Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension service reports that farmers and ranchers have lost more than $1.5 billion in crops and livestock.”
Real funny stuff Smokey
Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/06/08/southwestern-drought-crushing-ranchers-farmers/#ixzz1TprAnpWw

Rhoda Ramirez

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?

timetochooseagain

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:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/drought/wetdry/bar-mod-110-00/190001-201106.gif
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/drought/wetdry/bar-svr-110-00/190001-201106.gif
Clearly by these measures drought extents going back earlier than 12 years indicate much more widespread drought in the past.

We had a drought in Australia ending 2010. Then it rained. A lot. So?

Henry chance

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.

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.

Dr. Dave

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.

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

LA Guy,
Come on, Really? .. are you really THAT stupid?
Here, just to get you started .. and these are just a few, and only droughts, and only droughts in Texas and the mid-west. Get a clue and quit drinking the koolaid!
1854
1879
1919
1925
1925
1930
1930
1930
1931
1931
1934
1934
1934
1935
1938
1951
1952
1954
1956
1956-1957
1963-1996

pat

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.

Smokey, more perfect than perfect can be! Bet a cold beer they don’t get it. Their genes are missing some links.

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.

mike g

@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.

AnonyMoose

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

mike g

@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.

Steve from Rockwood

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.

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.

Chris

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.

Nolo Contendere

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. 🙂

mike g

Anthony,
Excellent sarcasm, btw.

Costard

A drought in SE Louisiana? It’s been raining for weeks.
http://weather.yahoo.com/united-states/louisiana/new-orleans-2458833/?unit=f

LA Guy

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?

hotrod (Larry L)

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

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
.

Roger Knights

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.

gnomish

it’s been raining for months almost every day in florida.
no freakin drought here.

gnomish

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.
🙂

Robert of Texas

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)

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.
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.

Climate Bully

La Nina, anyone?

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…

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.

dp

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?

Scott

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

KenB

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……….