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Mon, 23 Apr 2018
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Drought


Sun

Drought in Oklahoma sees worst conditions

drought Oklahoma
Drought is tightening its grip across the Southwest as extreme conditions spread from Oklahoma to Utah, according to a new federal data released Thursday.

On the southern high plains, Oklahoma remains ground zero for the worst drought conditions in the United States. About 20 percent of the state is facing exceptional drought conditions - the worst possible classification.

Most of Colorado also is under severe drought and almost all of the Texas Panhandle is seeing extreme drought or worse conditions.

The federal drought map shows dry conditions have intensified across northern New Mexico and expanded in Arizona.

Attention

Argentina's worst drought in years undermining economy

Argentina’s Worst Drought Undermining Economy

Argentina’s Worst Drought Undermining Economy

Jorge Josifovich is silent and downcast as he walks under the pounding sun in one of Argentina's most fertile agricultural regions, staring at soy crops parched by the country's worst drought in years.

The drought, which began in November, has caused big losses, reduced expectations of economic growth and raised concerns among farmers, government officials and experts in the world's third-largest exporter of soybean and corn, AP reported.

"It's dramatic," said Josifovich, a farmer and agricultural engineer who provides advice to growers. He picked up soy seeds from a plant that stands at about half its normal height. "Not only is there the physical loss of grain yield, but there's also the loss of quality, which lowers the product's final price."

That's a blow to Argentina, where farming is the economy's main engine, and high or low prices for soy and other commodities can either help sustain or bust government investment plans.

President Mauricio Macri was counting on a near-record soy crop this year to boost economic growth to 3.5% in 2018. Instead, what is expected to be the poorest harvest in at least a decade has already cut growth forecasts by up to a percentage point.

While Macri struggles to reduce the country's high fiscal deficit and tame inflation, Argentines continue to lose purchasing power and many are growing increasingly frustrated with rises in fuel and transportation costs.

The value of grain exports this year could be cut by up to $3.4 billion as a result of the drought, according to recent estimates by the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange. But the impact could be even more bruising if related industries are taken into account.

Comment: We're seeing crop failures all over the world as the seasons become more erratic with brutal winters dragging on into Spring, record frosts and more hailstorms, floods and droughts. The world is seeing a rapid upsurge in extreme weather according to a recent report, so as more crops fail the likelihood of food price rises invariably increases. See also:


Arrow Up

Sahara Desert has grown by 10% in the last 100 years

Sahara Desert
© Google Maps
Climate change is partly to blame for a startling increase in the size of the Sahara Desert over the past one hundred years. According to a new study, the world's largest desert has expanded by 10 percent since 1920.

Researchers from the University of Maryland studied rainfall data to measure boundary changes of the desert and found that higher summer temperatures coupled with dry winters are increasing the overall aridity of the land. The expansion of the desert also spells trouble for humans and ecosystems in the Sahel, the transition zone between the desert and the lush green lands of the Savannah to the south.

"The trends in Africa of hot summers getting hotter and rainy seasons drying out are linked with factors that include increasing greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere," said Ming Cai, program director at the National Science Foundation, the group that funded the study. "These trends have a devastating effect on the lives of African people."

Snowflake

Seven feet of snow follows Northern California's drought

Seven feet of Snow follows Northern California's drought
© Heavenly Mountain Resort via AP
In this photo provided by the Heavenly Mountain Resort, fresh snow covers most of a table and chairs Friday, March 2, 2018, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. A blizzard warning was in effect for parts of the Sierra Nevada, where snow was piling up and travel was difficult due to repeated highway closures and the need for chains in many places. The snow will help the Sierra snowpack, which is vital to the state's water supply and has only been about a quarter of its normal depth for this time of winter. It's also a boon for skiers and snowboarders.
A massive snowstorm Friday in Northern California could bring the state's lengthy drought to end while leaving two feet of snow in the mountains near Los Angeles.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains has seen two feet of snow and winds gusting over 100 miles per hour. Forecasters are expecting seven feet of snow in some areas of the mountain range. Meanwhile, more than 22,000 Montecito residents evacuated their homes as rain continued to pound the area - California's weather comes as a nor'easter clobbers parts of the East Coast.

"The worst of the storm has passed, and we are cautiously optimistic that due to a significant amount of pre-storm preparation we have come through this with minimal impact," Rob Lewin, director of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, said in a statement.

Comment: The droughts in California tend to be followed by devastating flooding:


Attention

Some of the world's largest lakes are drying up

LAKE POOPÓ The dry, salt-crusted Bolivian lake bed unfurls into the distance. Boats are stranded; the fish and waterfowl are gone. Fishermen who depended on the lake are moving else - where. It’s a diaspora born of drought.
© MAURICIO LIMA
LAKE POOPÓ The dry, salt-crusted Bolivian lake bed unfurls into the distance. Boats are stranded; the fish and waterfowl are gone. Fishermen who depended on the lake are moving else - where. It’s a diaspora born of drought.
Warming climates, drought, and overuse are draining crucial water sources, threatening habitats and cultures.

Tire tracks stretched across the flat lake bed to the horizon. We followed them in a Suzuki 4x4, looking for clues about what's happened to Poopó, once Bolivia's second largest lake, which has vanished into the thin air of the Andean highlands.

We were driving on the lake bottom, yet we were more than 12,000 feet above sea level. The spring air was lip-chapping dry. Many of the fishing villages that have relied on Lake Poopó for thousands of years have emptied too, and we drove past clusters of abandoned adobe homes. Dust devils danced around them, spinning in warm winds. In the distance we spotted several small aluminum boats that seemed to be floating on water. As we drove closer, the mirage receded, and we found the boats sitting abandoned in the silt. I stepped out of the vehicle. My shoes cracked the salty crust that had formed jagged lumps, like ice cream in a freezer that has melted and recrystallized.

Comment: Our climate is changing and it's symptomatic of Earth entering an ice age, bringing with it drought and deluge, but we're also seeing the earth beneath our very feet shifting:


Sun

Record heat and dry conditions spark fears of another drought in California

California heat
© KTLA
"We're about halfway through the rain season, so we've only got February and March, and they better be a miracle," said climatologist Bill Patzert. "If they're not, we just backflipped into the drought again."
January in Southern California is typically marked by rain, chilly temperatures and snow-capped mountains.

But this month is ending on a decidedly hot and dry note, with umbrellas and sweaters giving way to bathing suits and air conditioning.

The region is in the midst of a heat wave that on Monday brought record high temperatures for the day in places such as Long Beach (91 degrees), UCLA (89), Santa Ana (88), Oxnard (87) and Newport Beach (85). At 93 degrees, Lake Forest was the hottest spot in the United States. More records could fall Tuesday, and there is no rain in the foreseeable future.

It's a repeat of the unusually hot, dry and windy weather that helped fuel huge brush fires in December. Since the end of last February, downtown Los Angeles has seen just 2.26 inches of rain - an anemic amount over an 11-month period. Los Angeles has seen just 28% of its average precipitation since October - with most of it coming from the rainstorm that caused the deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara County.

"We're about halfway through the rain season, so we've only got February and March, and they better be a miracle," said climatologist Bill Patzert. "If they're not, we just backflipped into the drought again."

The culprit has been a recurring high-pressure system over the West. "It's been a hot summer, a hot fall, and even now in the midwinter. We're talking mid-80s at the end of January? That's unheard of," Patzert said.

"The heat today is pretty extraordinary," added UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. "Coastal California is susceptible to midwinter heat spells, but this is a particularly extreme example - to the point where we are breaking records."

Boat

Venice water levels lowest since records began - and it's sinking (PHOTOS)

A gondola is seen tied up in Venice, near the Rialto bridge, on January 31, 2018, as exceptionally low tides have drained the lagoon city.
© VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/ GETTY IMAGES
A gondola is seen tied up in Venice, near the Rialto bridge, on January 31, 2018, as exceptionally low tides have drained the lagoon city.
Photographs taken this week show the famed Venetian gondolas helplessly abandoned on the docks, as the low tides caused by Wednesday's 'super blue blood moon' dry up the canals, robbing gondoliers of their money and residents of their transportation.

This is the third year that Venice has experienced record low water levels, with data showing a decrease of up to 60 cm lower than average. Two years ago, the city reported water levels up to 70 cm below normal levels, the lowest ever recorded in city data, according to Express.

Attention

Southern California's drought deepens dramatically

Los Angeles skyline
© AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
In this Dec. 14, 2017 file photo, Los Angeles skyline is seen through burned trees after a brush fire erupted in the hills in Elysian Park in Los Angeles.
California is rapidly plunging back into drought, with severe conditions now existing in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties-home to one-fourth of the state's population, a national drought monitor said Thursday.

The weekly report released by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a project of government agencies and other partners, also shows 44 percent of the state is now considered to be in a moderate drought. It's a dramatic jump from just last week, when the figure was 13 percent.

"It's not nearly where we'd like to be," Frank Gehrke, a state official, acknowledged after separately carrying out manual measurements of winter snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which supplies water to millions of Californians in a good, wet year.

Overall, the vital snowpack Thursday stood at less than a third of normal for the date.

Water

South Africa's Cape Town may become first major city in world to run out of water

Cape Town drought
© ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
Dead fish lay in the cracked mud in the now dry bed that is the Gamka Dam in Beaufort West in November 08, 2017.
As the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, residents of Cape Town, South Africa, ushered in 2018 - the start of a new year and the start of the city's stringent new water regulations.

The Level 6 restrictions came into effect to combat an unprecedented drought which threatens to make Cape Town the first major city devoid of water.

The slew of new measures include limiting individuals municipal water usage per day and threatening to impose fines on those who exceed it.

They also reduce agricultural water use by 60 percent and commercial use by 45 percent, compared to pre-drought allocations.

The drought and water stress across most of South Africa follows a strong El Niño in 2015 and 2016.

The weather pattern - characterized by warmer-than-normal ocean water in the equatorial Pacific - resulted in extreme heat and spells of dry weather.

Beneficial rain eventually returned in late fall for much of the country, including the drought-stricken western Cape.


Comment: South Africa's Cape Town contends with worst drought in over a century


Bizarro Earth

After the flames subside: Hillsides left barren by California wildfires now at risk from mudslides

Thomas fire, California
© Noah Berger/AP
The Thomas fire burns through Los Padres National Forest near Ojai, California
The frightening hiss and crackle of the massive Thomas Fire in Southern California has been replaced by the loud droning of heavy equipment below the burn area.

Public work crews in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are frantically clearing out every debris basin and storm drain possible, because the fire has left behind another threat -- mudslides.

"The Thomas Fire burned all of our front country range here," said Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara's deputy director of public works."

All these hills normally have a protective cover of chaparral. That's all gone. Almost 100% gone," he said.

What's left is black-gray hillside that officials and residents alike fear will become ashy waves of floodwater with the first rain of a so far bone-dry season.