Showing posts with label drought. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drought. Show all posts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moderate Drought Conditions for Eastern Virginia

Portions of Virginia are experiencing parched conditions.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says much of eastern Virginia is now in a moderate drought, while parts of Southside Virginia and the Richmond area are abnormally dry. The Drought Monitor is a service of the National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies

Temperatures hit 100 degrees in parts of the state on Thursday.

Last year more than two-thirds of the state experienced drought conditions and excessive heat that hurt crops and livestock.

Northampton County has experienced more than a moderate drought. The last significant percipitation event to occur in most of Northampton County was the December 26 snow storm. Accomack County has received some rain during that time however both counties are very dry right now and farmers and homeowners alike hope for some significant rain sooner rather than later.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Jelly Fish In The Inner Harbor Is A Sign Of Drought

Inner Harbor's no place to swim anyway, but now you can add another reason not to go in the water downtown: jellyfish.

Softball-sized, milky white and bell-shaped, with long tentacles trailing, the gelatinous animals could be seen moving slowly about Thursday in the murky water by the Constellation.

Scientists identified them as Chrysaora quinquecirrha — the most common of sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay. Usually, though, they hang out farther south, where they sting unwary bathers and swimmers.

But the researchers said the lack of rainfall this summer likely triggered the harbor invasion by making the water here just salty enough to attract them. It's been abnormally dry on both sides of the bay, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with moderate to extreme drought gripping the western end of the state and the lower Eastern Shore.

"What apparently has happened is that the optimal salinity range has shifted up the bay," said Raleigh Hood, a biological oceanographer at the University of Maryland's Horn Point Environmental Laboratory near Cambridge. "Normally, down here, we're sea nettle heaven."

Hood said he's not surprised by their northward migration this year. He and Christopher Brown, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, developed a system for predicting and mapping their abundance and spread, based on a variety of factors like water salinity and temperature. The computer model shows little likelihood of finding nettles in the Patapsco River, but it does show that salinity levels in the harbor and just outside it are elevated now, right around what sea nettles find most comfortable.

"They're happy as clams in that range," Hood said.

Sea nettles can be found year-round in the middle and lower bay and its rivers, from around Annapolis south, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program's field guide. They're at their peak in July and August, typically in the moderately salty middle of the bay, according to Denise Breitburg, senior scientist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater. But they can remain abundant as late as October, she added in an e-mail.

While the harbor influx of sea nettles is just one more weather-related oddity in a year of extremes, it's hard to say whether it has any broader relevance, Hood says.

"Global jellyfish populations are increasing," he explained. "That's a pretty good indication the world is going out of kilter." Some have attributed the jelly surge to global warming, others to the degradation of coastal waters worldwide.

Here in the Chesapeake Bay, though, it's not clear whether sea nettles are increasing or declining, Hood said. The average water temperature has increased slightly — possibly an indication of climate change — and water quality generally is considered poor throughout much of the estuary.

But Breitburg, who's been studying the bay's jellyfish for years, found that sea nettle densities have actually declined since the late 1980s, according to an article published last year by the Maryland Sea Grant program. She suggested that the dropoff may be related to the swoon of the bay's oysters, despite the bay's pollution and signs of climate shift.

Jellyfish lay eggs in the water, which settle to the bottom and attach to hard surfaces like rocks, pilings and oyster shells. But as oysters have dwindled, their shell-covered reefs have been smothered in silt, depriving jellyfish polyps of places to spend the winter.

Even if the numbers are down a bit, there are still plenty out there to nail folks who spend time in or on the water.

"I got stung by one just the other day," Hood said. "It's annoying but not life-threatening, unless you're allergic to it."

Of course, that shouldn't be an issue in the harbor — Baltimore health authorities warn against swimming there because of potentially disease-causing bacteria in the water.

But the ghostly looking nettles are safe to watch, as long as you stay out of the drink. And if it's any consolation — or motivation to get out to see them — this is likely their last hurrah. The nettles farther south are already starting to die off, reports Breitburg, and these will, too, once it rains enough to lower the salinity level again, or it gets colder.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Heavens Opened And It Finally Rained !!

The Eastern Shore contiues to get much needed rain as rain and thunderstorms were in the area throughout the day on Wednesday. Downpours covered the area Wednesday morning causing traffic on main roads to slow.

Roadways and yards were partially flooded from the rainfall which exceeded 2 inches. Weather experts predict storms and rain to continue in the area through Thursday with temperatures in upper 80's.

AHHHHH.... Life is good..............

Thursday, July 15, 2010

State Of Virginia Put On Drought Watch

A drought watch has been issued for Virginia as a long hot, dry spell has stunted crops, heightened the threat of wildfires and drawn down reservoirs.

The watch issued Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is intended to increase awareness of a possible drought as the state heads into the statistically driest months of the year.

The department is urging voluntary measures statewide to protect water supplies.

Recent rains have done little to ease parched conditions. Among the primary factors leading to the watch:

Eight-six percent of the state is experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions, as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Most of Virginia has recorded below-normal precipitation in the last 60 days; short-term forecasts do not indicate a change in that pattern.

Stream monitoring stations show water flows below normal ranges, particularly in southeast and central Virginia.

Wildfire conditions are at levels normally seen much later in the summer months. Twenty localities already have issued burning bans.

Large reservoirs such as Lake Moomaw, Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Reservoir and Philpott Reservoir have been slowly declining since June.

Virginia growers have been especially hard hit by the scorching temperatures and dry conditions. The state commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the early arrival of hot, dry conditions has been difficult to overcome.

"Normally, if you have a late drought, your crops are a little better along," Matthew J. Lohr said. "It's been weeks since we've had measurable rain."

Kevin Engel farms leased land in 14 Virginia counties. He grows corn for feed and store shelves, barley, wheat and soybeans. He said conditions throughout all his fields are uniformly bad.

"A very large majority of corn in our area will not yield anything, even if it rains now," he said. He had to replant 200 acres of soybeans burned by the sun, even though the field was irrigated.

"There's going to be quite a serious blow to Virginia's No. 1 industry this year," Engel said.

Growers who usually can depend on two hay cuts a season are looking at one now, meaning they may have to thin herds if they can't store enough for the winter months.

Even poultry farmers have reported heat stress among their birds.

Lohr said Virginia needs a steady drenching of rain to salvage some crops.

While there is no widespread reports of threatened public water supplies, the DEQ is urging localities, public water suppliers and others to enact preservation measures.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Large Fire Saturday Near Hallwood, Virginia

Fire departments were called once again this afternoon to this location due to a rekindle.
At 5:09 PM on Saturday afternoon, a woods fire was reported on Neal Parker Road just south of Bayside Market. The fire burned several acres of property on Neal Parker Road, which is Route 316 between Hallwood and Saxis Road. The piece of land which was damaged in the fire was a wooded area which had just recently been cut, according to Station 6 Chief Jody Bagwell.

Several stations responded or helped with standby vehicles to assist in the fire. The stations included Saxis, Bloxom, New Church, Parksley, Tasley and Greenbackville. Pocomoke was called for a standby engine and brought a standby tanker. Chincoteague also brought a standby vehicle. Units from the Virginia Department of Forestry were also on the scene. According to Bagwell, the stretch of Neal Parker Road between Hallwood and Saxis road was temporarily closed due to the enormity of the fire. The scene was cleared Saturday evening at 10:10 PM. Several recalls were made on Sunday because of the fire reigniting in certain areas. Roughly 10 acres of land were burned in the blaze. Bagwell said the cause of the fire has not been determined, but foul play is suspected by investigators.
A forest fire warning was in effect throughout the weekend on the Eastern Shore due to the low humidity and the high winds. All citizens were advised to properly discard all smoking materials and items to avoid brush and timber fires. Lack of rain has caused the fire danger to be extreme and caution should continue. Showers and thunderstorms expected during the middle of the week should help reliveve some of the dry conditions.

Pictured: Pictures of the blaze on Neal Parker Road Saturday. Photos courtesy of Bloxom Fire Chief Jody Bagwell