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Articulate_Ape
02-17-2010, 12:52 PM
United States' drought has 'extraordinary' reversal

By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

What a difference a rain makes. The nationwide drought that had farmers, communities and entire states fighting to conserve water has reversed in the most dramatic turnaround since federal scientists began keeping records.

More than 92% of the country is drought-free — the nation's best showing since 1999.

"The lack of drought is extraordinary," said Douglas Le Comte, a meteorologist with the federal Climate Prediction Center.

At the worst of the USA's most recent drought — in August 2007 — almost 50% of the country was involved. Currently, about 7% of the country is in a drought, according to federal scientists. The only part of the USA in "extreme" drought is a small fraction of Hawaii.

In 2007, gigantic portions of the Southeast were in the worst drought in more than a century, sparking water wars among Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

"It was horrid," said Teresa Hammack of Mars Hill, N.C., whose springs ran dry in August 2007 at the height of the Southeast drought. Hammack's home relies entirely on underground springs as a source of water.

"Our springs are running rampant, with clean, fresh water," she said.

There have been less than half a dozen occasions since the late 1800s when drought has been as sparse as it is now, Le Comte said.

Even before this month's massive snowfall totals, relief has come in a number of different ways:

• The West has been helped this winterby a Pacific train of storm systems laden with ample moisture. The storms, caused by the ongoing El Niño climate pattern, brought lots of rain and snow to the Southwest, including the normally arid deserts of Southern California and eastern Arizona, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

• The southern drought (across Texas, Louisiana and Florida) was eased by a very wet fall and winter, said David Miskus, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center.

• Drought relief in the Southeast started a year or two ago, Miskus said. A number of wet weather systems, including Tropical Storm Fay in August 2008, chipped away at the drought, Le Comte said. By the spring of 2009, a number of soaking weather systems ended the drought in the Georgia area, he said.

"I guess it was time for Mother Nature to make up for the long-term subnormal precipitation with deluges," Miskus said.

In drought-plagued California, the "meteorological drought is pretty much over," said Le Comte.

However, hydrological drought – meaning a shortfall in water supply – remains a concern in the Golden State. The state is still "looking at a deficit in soil moisture," reports hydrologist Mike Mierzwa of the California Department of Water Resources. "We're still not caught up yet."

According to the federal Drought Monitor, California reservoir levels, after being down from several consecutive years of subnormal rain and snow, have started to recover, although most reservoirs have not reached normal capacity.

"We've gone from a very scary situation to an OK situation," said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "If it stays wet, we'll stay in an OK situation."

Link (http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2010-02-16-drought-us-reversal_N.htm?csp=34&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-NewsTopStories+%28News+-+Top+Stories%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo)


Where's Al?

Gingersnap
02-17-2010, 01:06 PM
Where's Al?

Chartering a private jet to fly out to the Western U.S. so he can explain that it's not just rain - it's acid rain.

Nubs
02-17-2010, 01:22 PM
So we now know that AGW can cause hot and cold. It can now also be the cause and cure for drought.