Drought Conference

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

The drought is going to affect everything. And it's nothing new. This has been going on for three years.

"The areas that are most in jeopardy are the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley," Gov. Mark Warner says.

Just because your water's flowing doesn't mean we're not in a drought.

"It really is impacting all activities in the commonwealth across the board if it's not currently impacting them it has the potential to in a very short time," Terry Wagner says.

All you have to do is look around, many wells are dried up, that's because the ground water's the lowest it's been in 30 years, the drought has fueled the recent forest fires, there's been 1,200 this year. The dry weather is also responsible for the almost 30 recent ozone alerts. Farmers across the Valley are struggling.

"This coming on top of a slowing economy and budget revenues continue to be down we see the market continue to reel. The idea that we could take an additional hit in our agriculture industry because of the drought is something we want to do everything we can do to avoid," Warner says.

"It's almost becoming the straw that breaks the camel's back," Martha Moore says.

"The biggest short term impact are certainly on the agriculture community there's real possibility for impact on private and public water supplies," Wagner says.

Right now, 10 communities have mandatory restrictions on water, 26 are asking people to be careful.

"Virginia traditionally has relied upon local action and local decision making in terms of how to respond to droughts as opposed to state action, I think when Virginians realize how severe this drought is, they'll do their part," Warner says.

The counties are also trying to help out. Nineteen, including Augusta and Rockingham have applied for federal disaster aid.

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Drought Facts

  • A drought is a period of abnormally dry weather, which persists long enough to produce a serious hydrologic imbalance (for example crop damage, water supply shortage, etc.)

  • The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration and the size of the affected area.

  • There are four different ways that drought can be defined:
    • Meteorological - a measure of departure of precipitation from normal. Due to climatic differences what is considered a drought in one location may not be a drought in another location.
    • Agricultural - refers to a situation when the amount of moisture in the soil no longer meets the needs of a particular crop
    • Hydrological - occurs when surface and subsurface water supplies are below normal.
    • Socioeconomic - refers to the situation that occurs when physical water shortage begins to affect people.

  • The Dust Bowl days of the 1930's affected 50 million acres of land, rendering the farmers helpless.

  • In the 1950's, the Great Plains suffered a severe water shortage when several years went by with rainfall well below normal.

  • The worst drought in 50 years affected at least 35 states during the long hot summer of 1988.

  • In 1988, rainfall totals over the mid-west, Northern Plains and the Rockies were 50 percent to 85 percent below normal.

  • During the great drought of 1988, Governor Guy Hunt of Alabama led a statewide prayer for rain. It came the very next day, and the thunderstorms continued for weeks.

Source: www.nws.noaa.gov (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) contributed to this report

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