Drought, but why: Normal monsoon doesn’t mean no drought

Environment One-third of India’s districts are chronically drought-hit despite receiving above normal rainfall It is that time of the year when everyone chases India’s chief finance minister — the monsoon.
IMD defines a normal monsoon as when the rainfall is between 96 and 104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the June-September season.
About 33 per cent of the country is chronically drought-affected while close to 68 per cent areas are drought prone.
There were only three such droughts during 1901-1950.
There was also an increase in areas hit by moderate droughts.
The government notified 102 districts as chronically affected by drought.
On an average, every third year was a drought year in these areas.
Rainfall pattern Most of India’s drought-prone areas are well endowed with rainfall.
On an average, India receives 1,088 mm of median rainfall a year.
Kerala receives 2,820 mm of rainfall a year.

Nearly 50% of India is currently facing drought: IIT Gandhinagar scientists

Nearly 50 per cent of the country is currently facing drought with at least 16 per cent falling in the "exceptional" or "extreme" category, according to IIT Gandhinagar scientists managing India’s real-time drought prediction system.
This ongoing drought will pose a lot of challenges in water availability this summer, Vimal Mishra, associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here, told PTI.
The results of the simulations, prepared by the Water and Climate Lab at IIT Gandhinagar, are available on the website of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
"Arunachal Pradesh did not get good rain this year, and parts of Jharkhand, southern Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and northern part of Tamil Nadu are under drought," Mishra said.
On the other hand, drought conditions are making us extract more and more water," he said.
While famine-like conditions are not expected, the drought will have a massive impact on the economy.
"If our groundwater is not recharged and managed sustainably, we could face a very difficult situation in the coming years," Mishra said, adding that groundwater is being used irresponsibly at present.
If we already have depleted groundwater we should not grow water-intensive crops.
Conserving water in urban homes is just a drop in the bucket compared to steps that can be taken in the agriculture sector, he said.
He also stressed the need to equip ourselves better to tackle a drought situation, "The government thinks drought is a reactive situation, that they will provide a relief only once there is a crisis But with the data available they can take proactive measures to prevent a water crisis," Mishra said.

LA offers to supply water instead of IID to get Colorado River drought plan across the finish line

Wochit With a Monday deadline looming, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has offered to break an impasse on a seven-state Colorado River drought contingency package by contributing necessary water from its own reserves on behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District.
We would make both IID’s and Metropolitan’s water contributions," Kightlinger said.
But Reclamation Commissioner Burman told all parties last month that if they didn’t finalize the drought plans by March 4, she would act, including possibly imposing mandatory cuts in water supplies in coming years.
IID Vice President James Hanks, who has been an outspoken critic of the federal deadline, went further, saying in an email, "The IID board, in the form of an official action at a public held meeting, has stated its position.
The IID staff has continued to make progress on the Drought Contingency Plan as directed.
Metropolitan would be at greater risk of having rationing imposed on its urban supplies than its rural neighbor to the south, because its place in line for water from the river supplies comes after IID’s.
IID has poured significant resources into its effort to get Salton Sea funding.
In 2016, he said it was Metropolitan who threatened to hold up the drought contingency plan until they received assurances that federal and state officials would throw their backing behind the agency’s efforts to guarantee funding and water supply from an unrelated California Delta water project proposal.
The drought contingency plans, if completed, would keep about 2.1 million acre feet of water in the Colorado River system.
He thinks the Farm Bill, the same source from which IID is seeking funds for the Salton Sea, could be an option.

States Along Colorado River Working To Avert Crisis From 19-Year Drought

A 19-year drought has created a crisis for states along the Colorado River.
Nearly all the lettuce in this country is grown with water from the Colorado River, which means a 19-year drought along the river has far-reaching implications.
SOMMER: States like California and Arizona have been negotiating a deal to share water, to cut back so reservoirs don’t hit critical lows.
SOMMER: But getting everyone to share water – that’s the tricky part because of an invisible pecking order, the water rights system.
SOMMER: One farming community in California, the Imperial Valley, has some of the oldest water rights.
SOMMER: Bruce Kuhn is on the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District.
He voted to sell some of Imperial’s water to San Diego as part of that deal.
SOMMER: Kuhn’s customers were farmers who were not happy.
Now Kuhn is back on the board with another water-sharing vote in front of him.
If that doesn’t happen by the end of January, the federal government says it will step in to decide the future of the Colorado River.

Farmers disappointed by state drought relief

THE region’s farmers have been left crestfallen, after the state Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes visited Gippsland on Friday to announce a “relatively small contribution” for drought support, that excluded rate relief.
The $12.6 million package includes one-off payments for farmers in central and east Gippsland, as well as northern Victorian dairy farmers, of up to $3500 for farmers aged under 35 and those receiving the Farm Household Allowance.
After calling for rate relief for more than a year, the region’s farmers say the “cash injection” will do little to ease the stress of rates and monthly feed bills.
When questioned why the Victorian government had only given $43 million in drought support funding, while the New South Wales government had pledged more than $1 billion when the Bureau of Meteorology had declared drought severity in Gippsland as similar, if not the same, to many areas of NSW, Ms Symes said they were different situations.
“I’m here to talk about the $13 million package today, which in total is a $43 million package, and also calling on the federal government to provide more funding so that we can get that to our farmers.” Ms Symes said she expected most farmers would put the payment toward their rate bill but did not want to dictate that.
“I am not announcing rate subsidies today, I am not ruling it out in the future.” When asked by the Gippsland Times when Premier Daniel Andrews will be visiting the part of the state east of Traralgon, she advised “the premier’s diary is a matter for him”.
“Even this time last year, we were drier than most of NSW, so that’s really hard to watch.” Ms Harrison encouraged the state government to devise a drought support program with milestones for uniform assistance.
“This drought has shown that it would be good if there were certain triggers that started different support levels,” she said.
“There should have been triggers set after the millennium drought where situations didn’t get this bad in the first place.” Ms Harrison said she believed rate relief would have been the most equitable drought support option.
“It is a cash injection, and yes we are thankful for it, but it’s not going to go far, and we hope for more.” Sponsored

Dodging drought

It may seem unlikely — considering the precipitation of the past couple of weeks — but Idaho and Washington could be headed for an abnormally dry summer.
Both eastern Washington and Idaho, based on short- and long-term forecasts, may expect an abnormally dry spring and summer, according to the report.
“The seasonal outlooks forecast for the spring are showing warmer-than-normal conditions and drier-than-normal for the Northwest,” said Karin Bumbaco, who conducts research as the assistant state climatologist with the Office of the Washington State Climatologist.
“So I think that is a bit concerning, both with what snowpack we have, and we may not build up as much through the latter part of the snow season as what we’ve seen the last few years.” While the situation seemed more dire in January, which was an unusually warm and dry month throughout the Pacific Northwest, Bumbaco said the precipitation of the early part of February helped replenish snowpacks, particularly in the Cascade Mountain region and the panhandle of Idaho.
The Cascade region has built up to about 85 percent of normal, while Idaho’s snow level is between 90 percent to 95 percent of normal.
But there is some concern still.” Bumbaco said long-term trends throughout the Northwest show temperatures have been warming in all seasons of the year.
I do expect there to be more decrease in our snowpack in Washington and Idaho in the future than what we’ve already seen, due to climate change.” Defining ‘drought’ Drought is defined by the National Weather Service as a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period.
According to federal data, there have been three or four major droughts in the past 100 years.
Since 2000, the longest duration of drought in Idaho lasted 258 weeks, beginning on Jan. 30, 2001, and ending on Jan. 3, 2006.
Too early to panic “The snow we’re getting now is good, but if the snow is not available earlier and if we have extremely cold temperatures below zero, then that’s when we really have problems,” he said.

Last cordons lifted in areas affected by Tasman district fire but drought remains

​The remaining controlled-access cordons have been lifted in areas affected by the 2300ha Tasman district fire.
Those cordons – in Teapot, Eves and Redwood valleys – were lifted at 6pm on Sunday.
* Tasman region drought sees severe water restrictions put in place for Dovedale * Irrigation ban for parts of Tasman as urban residents urged to halve water use * Households urged to cut water use by half as Tasman district drought bites * Severe water restrictions to bite as drought could cost over $100 million "We’ve had 5mm of rain this morning but with no follow-up rain expected in the near future, the fire risk across the region will continue to be extreme," he said.
"Please stay prepared to evacuate should the need arise."
Advertise with Stuff As of Sunday afternoon, the fire was contained and controlled with a 30m boundary fire break around the entire perimeter.
People were reminded that a machinery ban directive was still in place, as was the State of Emergency, and parks and reserves in the Nelson-Tasman region were still closed.
Meanwhile, the rain that fell on Sunday was no drought breaker for the tinder-dry Tasman district.
Council Dry Weather Task Force convener Dennis Bush-King on Monday said between half and 20mm of rain fell across the district including 4mm to 8mm on the Waimea Plains.
"It wasn’t enough to soak into the ground," Bush-King said.
The Motupiko water zone would instead remain on stage-four restrictions – a 65 per cent cut in allocations.

Tasman region drought sees severe water restrictions put in place for Dovedale

Farmers in Dovedale are being told to get ready to destock as the drought in the Tasman region continues to worsen.
* Households urged to cut water use by half as Tasman district drought bites * Severe water restrictions to bite as drought could cost over $100 million * Dovedale rural water scheme upgrade in pipeline While farmers who had experienced previous droughts in 1976 and 2001 had never seen the Humphries Creek run dry before, Schruer said the water situation was heading into unknown territory.
Advertise with Stuff "It’s hard to tell, because our intake has never been in this condition in living memory – no one knows how the stream is going to react."
Compared to previous years, the drought conditions had started earlier and escalated faster, resulting in a significant drop in the creek flow.
Schruer said while contingency plans were being considered in the event of a worst-case scenario, none of the options could provide water at or near current levels.
At the meeting, farmers were being recommended to destock down to 70 per cent of their water allocation if the drought continued.
"It could be extremely serious if they run out of water for stock.
Sheep and beef farmers Arthur and Debbie Win said while the drought was bad, most of the farms in the area had been well-prepared.
"Because we’re sheep and beef farmers, destocking is what we do – where it can be tricky is if people are carrying too much stock for the water."
Originally set up as a stock water supply system, the scheme evolved over time to also supply households (which account for about 25 per cent of the water), reaching throughout Dovedale and into Upper Moutere.

Experts: Southwestern US sees some drought relief

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Drought conditions in much of the southwestern United States have improved because of surges of moisture over the last few months.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center and others provided a briefing on the current conditions in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah as parts of California and the Pacific Northwest were blasted by another round of snow and rain.
The situation further inland has been less extreme, but the extra precipitation in southwestern Arizona has spurred some concerns that the upcoming harvest season could be interrupted.
“Snowpack is not a guarantee of what your available water supplies will be,” said Becky Bolinger with the Colorado Climate Center.
Many reservoirs in the four states are starting off the year low.
Federal data show the Salt River system in Arizona is at about 50 percent capacity, while the largest reservoir in New Mexico has dipped into the single digits.
Water restrictions still remain in place in northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan County.
Dust from White Sands National Monument in the south is being carried by the wind to Texas, more than 200 miles away.
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Cal Poly researcher looks back at California’s mega-drought

Drought has long been a part of California’s history.
There is archeologic evidence that shows periods of below-normal rainfall have lasted for more than 50 years in the past.
A Cal Poly professor is looking back at those so-called mega-droughts to see what we might be able to learn about the area’s climate in the future.
He found evidence of a 50-plus year mega-drought in our area 800 years ago that forced a change in the culture of native Central Coast residents.
They responded to the incredibly dry conditions by turning away from land and to the ocean for food.
“The question is are we really prepared for a 50-year drought?” said Jones.
It’s something meteorologists and climatologists have been talking about for years.
What happens when you add climate change on top of California’s history of rainfall variability?
Researchers like Jones are hoping looking at the past will help modern residents better understand what’s coming – whether they believe climate change is happening or not.
“Technology is moving at a pace that gives us great confidence and comfort but at some point, it could be part of our undoing,” said Hovde.