(Photo: Tony Gutierrez / AP)
KANSAS CITY — The worst drought in more than half a century baked more than two thirds of the continental United States this summer and its harsh effects continue to plague the parched cities and towns of the Great Plains.
Ask the 94,000 people of San Angelo, Texas, who are running out of water. Fast.
The city — once known as “the oasis” of dry west Texas — now says it only has enough water supplies to last one more year. On Oct. 16, it will enforce its highest level of emergency measures to save its water supply.
That first-ever “Drought Level III” declaration will ban any watering of lawns, golf courses and gardens, forbid fresh water use for swimming pools and close commercial car washes.
The city will also push up usage fees aiming to cut water use by at least 30 percent as it awaits a new water pipeline now under construction. The pipeline will not be available for use until mid-2013 or later.
Protests from local businesses has prompted the city to consider some exceptions but those may be temporary, officials say.
“We need to get back to meeting just basic needs,” said Will Wilde, water utilities director for San Angelo. “We don’t want to put people out of business. It may come to that if conditions get extreme in the future. Do you want to keep a green lawn or do you want water to drink?”
Despite recent rains, the drought continues to expand, with severe or worse drought affecting 83.80 percent of the High Plains region, up from 82.81 percent the prior week, according to the weekly Drought Monitor on Thursday.
More than half of Texas is having a drought that is rated severe or worse, and more than 95 percent of Oklahoma is rated as experiencing the more serious category of extreme drought.
Read the complete story.
Blazing Fires In The US Caught By NASA’s Aqua Satellite
Just as the AIRS instrument on Aqua can detect the ambient temperature of clouds, the MODIS infrared imaging instrument can detect hot-spots on land. When Aqua takes an image, it highlights the hot spots in red and smoke clouds in light brown.
Image credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team, Jeff Schmaltz
Story and more images at Phys.org.
A wildfire burning in the Gila National Forest consumed nearly 20,000 more acres in a day and is now, by far, the largest blaze on record in New Mexico, a fire incident spokesman told msnbc.com.
Image: Andrea Martinez / Gila National Forest
Let’s hope 2012 will be a better year for the environment…
Before and After: the Southwest drought from space
Dead Trees in Memorial Park, Houston, Texas
Before (left): May 3, 2010 | After (right): September 26, 2011
The Southwest drought has had a devastating impact on the state’s trees. The Texas Forest Service estimates more than 500 million trees were killed by the drought. The trees that were under the most stress were actually urban trees, when local governments restricted watering public landscapes. These pictures from the Texas Forest Service show Memorial Park in Houston, where trees turned brown and died over the course of a year.
Move the slider over to see before and after shots of this image and more here.
“Texas could be in the midst of a drought the history books have never seen, meaning water planners need to prepare for worse than what they’ve seen, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Thursday.
The current drought could last until 2020, because the region’s climate is in the middle of a 20- to 40-year dry phase, Nielsen-Gammon said.
Water planners, including state agencies and river authorities, have long since made water plans based on the drought of record, a nearly 10-year dry spell in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Sooner or later there will be a drought that’s worse” (than the drought of record), Nielsen-Gammon said. “The planning needs to be able to cover the bases not just for the worst that we’ve seen but also have a plan going forward in case conditions become worse than that.”
The state’s water development board, which conducts long-term water planning, declined to comment on whether the benchmark should be raised to accommodate worse droughts than the drought of record.”
Just don’t say “Haboob” in Arizona…
BLOWN AWAY A dust storm, known as a “haboob,” moves across Phoenix, Arizona about 6pm Thursday, dramatically reducing visibility and enveloping residents in an eerie, rust-coloured glow. It’s the third major dust storm that has hit the Phoenix metropolitan area since July 5; “microbursts” of wind, gusting up to 60 miles per hour, caused much of the area damage. (Photo: Pat Shannahan / The Arizona Republic via the AP / The Telegraph)
Also, cites with new all-time highs:
Record heat spikes previous records. NYTimes pulling through with solid coverage this week.
The Arizona Wallow Fire is the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history. It is only 38% contained and has burned 500,409 acres.
Above: US Drought Monitor Map update. Compared to previous maps, the drought is getting much worse. Here’s the 6-week animated .gif map showing how widespread the drought has become. It’s very dangerous, and several wild fires have burst just this week.
There is some chatter about a monsoon forming off the Pacific coast due to La Nina. If so, the southwest will receive much needed rain, but then will have to deal with massive flooding and flash flooding. What a nightmare.
OK, clever. But where’s the hope? Environmentalists have to change their doom narratives to encompass the moral and the sacred in order to get conservatives on board. Like it or not. Here are some suggestions.
Digital tools help us create incredible datavisualizations and interactives.
Sometimes though, real-life sponges in the shape of maps will do.
Called Can We Keep Up?, the visualization shown here looks at the increase in the urban water usage by 2030. A sponge’s thickness demonstrates a country’s future water needs.
Create by Hal Watts, Matthew Laws and Luke Bennett.