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Drought Has Engulfed Nearly A Third Of The United States

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Deborah





Joined: 30 Jul 2000
Posts: 731
Location: East Coast
PostThu Apr 25, 2002 7:50 pm  Reply with quote  

25 April 2002
The Baltimore Sun

Rains have done little to ease Md.'s drought
Officials say area subsoil remains dry, streams and reservoirs are low

The grass is green, and there's more rain in the forecast. So it is tempting to conclude that the long drought of 2001-2002 is finally over in Maryland.

Not so fast.

Near-normal rainfall in March and April has eased water shortages in Western Maryland. But officials say the rest of the state continues to suffer the same severe drought conditions that stretch from Maine to Georgia.

Maryland's soil is still dry, streams and water tables are at or near record lows for the season, and Baltimore's reservoirs have barely felt the recent showers and thunderstorms.

"The rains can be deceiving. We're not out of the woods by a long shot," said Baltimore Public Works Director George L. Winfield.

The city's reservoirs have stabilized at about 60 percent of capacity, even as Baltimore continues to supplement its water supplies with 140 million gallons drawn each day from the Susquehanna River.

"This time of year they should be way up at 95 percent," said public works spokesman Kurt Kocher.

The city's water customers have cut their consumption by about 7 percent. And they're being asked to keep on saving water voluntarily.

Winfield said he is reluctant to impose mandatory curbs until required by the state drought management plan, because less water consumption means lower water revenues.....
http://www.sunspot.net/news/weather/bal-te.md.drought25apr25.story?coll=bal%2Dlocal%2Dheadlines


24 April 2002
Boston.com

Rain brings some relief, but warm weather could erase those gains

BANGOR, Maine (AP) Recent rainstorms have improved the state's drought conditions, but experts caution that those recent gains could evaporate with the return of hot, dry weather.

The rains have increased the levels of some lakes and streams and many wells are returning to normal levels.

"Next month, the drought might be over and we'll all move on," said Evan Richert, director of the State Planning Office.

Gov. Angus King asked President Bush two weeks ago to declare Maine a major disaster area due to extreme drought conditions.

But the rains that have fallen since then appear to have improved Maine's condition markedly.

"Maine is actually faring well compared to other states," said Douglas LeComte, a drought specialist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in Maryland

The core drought area is south of Maine, LeComte said.

The hardest-hit areas fall between southern Connecticut to South Carolina. Some of those states have instituted mandatory water conservation measures, such as bans on lawn watering and car washing.

In Maine, stream flows are normal to above normal and wells are filling with water, except in some southern areas, according to Greg Stewart, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Augusta.

But Stewart cautioned that Maine is now in a transitional phase, between the time when the ground thaws and can absorb water and when plants come into their full foliage and soak up all the available moisture.

"Just because we had a normal spring doesn't always mean you're going to have a good year," Stewart said.

The gains could be wiped out if the rain stops and temperatures rise.....
http://www.boston.com/dailynews/113/region/Rain_brings_some_relief_but_wa%3A.shtml


24 April 2002
Scripps Howard News Service

Drought fallout on many fronts

The punishing drought covering nearly a third of the United States has the potential to cause severe water shortages along the East Coast this summer, create one of the worst wildfire seasons in the Southwest and hinder the nation's fragile economic recovery, drought experts say.

Although April showers have brought a deceptively green veneer to some drought-stricken regions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that rainfall deficits are so severe in some parts of the country that it would take months of above-normal precipitation to end the drought.

Most of the attention has focused on the Northeast, where an unusually persistent high-pressure system produced record warm winter temperatures and kept away the winter storms that normally fill reservoirs, raise stream flows and moisten the soil. There were almost no major snowstorms this winter in the East, except for a big one that hit Buffalo, N.Y., in December.

The Northeast experienced its second driest September-to-February period in 107 years, and New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland experienced their driest February on record. New Hampshire, under a drought warning since last September, recorded its driest winter in the last 47 years and its warmest winter in 143 years. Maine matched its driest year in more than a century of record-keeping. And rain and snowfall in Washington, D.C., was 70 percent below normal for the September-to-February period, a 13-inch deficit.

Hundreds of private wells across Maine have dried up, keeping well-drilling companies working overtime. Water managers throughout the region have reported stream flows and reservoir levels of near-record lows.

The three reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains that send drinking water to New York City and Philadelphia hold only about half as much water as normal for this time of year. Baltimore's three reservoirs are normally 95 percent full this time of year, but are currently only about 60 percent full. The city is supplementing its water supply by withdrawing 140 million gallons of water a day from the Susquehanna River. Usually it doesn't take any water directly from the river.....
http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=DROUGHT-04-24-02&cat=AN


24 April 2002
Scripps Howard News Service

Colo. gov. wants state declared drought area

DENVER - Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has taken the unprecedented step of asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the entire state an emergency drought area.

That would make farmers and ranchers eligible for federal assistance in the form of grants, low-interest loans and waivers to use areas that now are off-limits for grazing.

"It's very clear that nature is testing Colorado in ways that our state hasn't seen in decades," Owens said Tuesday. "This is far different than normal. We're at a historic low in terms of snowpack. We're not crying wolf."

Snowpack is 27 percent of normal, the lowest since 1981. The moisture level of grass is 1 percent to 4 percent of normal and trees are at 6 percent to 10 percent of normal, the governor said.

Owens was flanked by his top drought and fire experts during the news conference, including State Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament, State Forester Jim Hubbard and State Parks Director Lyle Laverty.

Laverty, former regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, and Hubbard were the authors of the national fire plan that put $1.4 billion into firefighting efforts nationwide during the summer of 2000.

"By all measures, this is the worst we've seen," Hubbard said referring to the state's tinderbox conditions. "We've seen some of these measures at times during the season that are this bad, but never all of them at once this bad."

Ament expressed concern over the impact of the continuing drought on farmers and ranchers who already are struggling financially. Some of them won't make it, he said.....
http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=COLO-DROUGHT-04-24-02&cat=AN


23 April 2002
The Houston Chronicle

Satellite quartet to track Earth's most precious resource and gain new perspective on climate

LOS ANGELES -- A successful launch next month of a nearly $1 billion satellite would mark the fourth spacecraft NASA has sent into orbit recently to follow the global movement of life's most precious resource: water.

The satellite Aqua will follow the Jason 1 and a pair of twin spacecraft called Grace, launched in December and March, respectively.

Although each is different, the missions are designed to help piece together the puzzle of how water moves between the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land.

"Each one of them is a critical element in this great hydrologic cycle, which really sustains life on Earth," said William Patzert, a NASA research oceanographer and scientist on the Jason 1 mission.

Scientists hope the three missions will lead to more accurate weather forecasts, better advance notice of El Ninos and a clearer understanding of how human activity affects the world at large.

Water -- and with it, energy -- moves through the world at varying paces before returning to the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet. That cycle drives both climate and weather, affecting in turn life and its every activity.

Water lasts just days in clouds as a vapor but weeks as a liquid in the world's rivers. As ice, it can remain locked in the polar caps for tens of thousands of years.

Monitoring water's movement -- where, how quickly and in what phase it moves -- requires a global perspective, something scientists hope the flotilla of Earth-orbiting satellites can provide.....
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/space/1377168
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hitech_46253





Joined: 16 May 2001
Posts: 499
Location: Indianapolis, IN U.S.
PostFri Apr 26, 2002 4:21 pm  Reply with quote  

GREAT STORY LINKS GUYS!! Appreciate them for my newsletter at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LLNews

Found 2 more stories yesterday:

Severe Drought Looms http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=DROUGHT-04-24-02&cat=AN

By JOAN LOWY
Scripps Howard News Service
April 24, 2002

- The punishing drought covering nearly a third of the United States has the potential to cause severe water shortages along the East Coast this summer, create one of the worst wildfire seasons in the Southwest and hinder the nation's fragile economic recovery, drought experts say.

Although April showers have brought a deceptively green veneer to some drought-stricken regions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that rainfall deficits are so severe in some parts of the country that it would take months of above-normal precipitation to end the drought.

Most of the attention has focused on the Northeast, where an unusually persistent high-pressure system produced record warm winter temperatures and kept away the winter storms that normally fill reservoirs, raise stream flows and moisten the soil. There were almost no major snowstorms this winter in the East, except for a big one that hit Buffalo, N.Y., in December.

The Northeast experienced its second driest September-to-February period in 107 years, and New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland experienced their driest February on record. New Hampshire, under a drought warning since last September, recorded its driest winter in the last 47 years and its warmest winter in 143 years. Maine matched its driest year in more than a century of record-keeping. And rain and snowfall in Washington, D.C., was 70 percent below normal for the September-to-February period, a 13-inch deficit.

Hundreds of private wells across Maine have dried up, keeping well-drilling companies working overtime. Water managers throughout the region have reported stream flows and reservoir levels of near-record lows.

The three reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains that send drinking water to New York City and Philadelphia hold only about half as much water as normal for this time of year. Baltimore's three reservoirs are normally 95 percent full this time of year, but are currently only about 60 percent full. The city is supplementing its water supply by withdrawing 140 million gallons of water a day from the Susquehanna River. Usually it doesn't take any water directly from the river.

The severe drought has led to widespread restrictions on lawn watering, car washing and the filling of swimming pools. Restaurants have been asked not to serve water except on request and homeowners have been asked to use brooms instead of hoses to wash driveways and sidewalks.

Violations of water restrictions in New York City, which has declared a drought emergency, are punishable by fines up to $1,000. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, meanwhile, has ordered local water utilities to plug their leaks.

"I don't think we've had conditions like this in the Northeast for 30 to 40 years,'' said Bill Lauer, a water engineer with the American Water Works Association, which represents public and private water suppliers. "It's still early. The full impact isn't going to be felt until later this summer.''

Environmentalists are concerned that the vernal pools that usually form in the Northeast in spring and then dry up in the summer's heat are not appearing or are reduced in size this year. Salamanders and other amphibians rely on the pools for mating and egg-laying.

The greatest fear is that there will be severe water shortages by summer in some of the hardest-hit states. Meteorologists and hydrologists predict that sparse rainfall this spring, coupled with warm weather, could result in conditions comparable to the East Coast drought of 1963-1965, which drained many reservoirs and private wells.

Meanwhile, forecasters are watching an El Nino weather pattern developing over the Pacific. The last four El Ninos have resulted in drier-than-normal conditions in April through June in New England.

So far, forecasts predict a warmer-than-normal summer in much of the Mid-Atlantic region. Precipitation forecasts give an equal probability to greater-than-normal and lower-than-normal rainfall through July for much of the East Coast, except for Georgia, South Carolina and western North Carolina, where lower-than-normal rainfall is more likely.

While recent rainfall deficits have been the most extreme in the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast and Maine have been in a dry spell since 1998.

There is only a 5 percent to 10 percent chance that rainfall between now and July will end drought conditions on the East Coast, said Richard Tinker, a drought specialist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

"We're not in a lot of deep trouble yet, but what concerns everybody is that if you get dry periods during the summer, they will have an even greater effect than they would otherwise because you don't have reserves to fall back on,'' Tinker said.

The outlook isn't much better in a drought-plagued swath of the West extending from Montana south through Wyoming and Colorado, and across New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern Nevada to Southern California.

Southern California just had its driest winter ever. The National Weather Service recorded only 1.4 inches of rain at Lindbergh Field in San Diego from December through March, breaking a winter record that had stood since 1850.

In the West, where prolonged drought is more common than in the Northeast, the chief worry is that conditions will lead to a potentially devastating wildfire season. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has asked the federal government to declare a drought emergency covering his entire state. With mountain snowpack at only 27 percent of normal, Owens said the state is facing some of the driest conditions in memory.

Some climatologists believe that frequent warm winters over the past decade may be increasing drought in the West by raising average temperatures in the upper reaches of mountains, thus reducing snowpack and the spring runoff that communities in the mountain states and desert Southwest rely on for water.

On the East Coast, which normally gets three to four times the rainfall of the arid West and Southwest, reservoirs are generally smaller and less able to accommodate prolonged drought.

"It's sort of human nature that if extreme events don't happen as frequently, memory slips and those types of communities are less well prepared for the future,'' said Robert Harriss (CQ), director of the environmental and societal impacts group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

"I think what we're going to see, that as water restrictions continue to become more widespread this summer, it's going to impact our economy in every single sector from building construction to food prices, and because water is linked tightly to electricity, it's going to potentially affect electricity prices.''

The drought could wind up increasing the consumer price index, the nation's inflation barometer, Harriss said.

Significant population growth in recent decades and widespread urban sprawl have magnified the effects of drought by increasing demand for water, experts say.

"A lot of communities along the East Coast and in the Southwest seriously have to take a step back and look at how much they can continue to grow,'' said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska.

"They are taxing the system in some cases to the point where it doesn't take a drought of the magnitude of (those in) the '60s or the '30s or the '50s, depending upon where you are, to have major impacts because you are a lot more vulnerable.''


On the Net:

National Drought Mitigation Center - http://drought.unl.edu/ndmc/


Colorado governor declares drought emergency http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%7E53%7E567986%7E,00.html

Drought aid sought by Owens
Governor asks feds to declare emergency covering entire state
By Julia C. Martinez
Denver Post Capitol Bureau

Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - Gov. Bill Owens on Tuesday took the unusual step of asking the federal government to declare the entire state a drought emergency area and called on Coloradans to start conserving water.


The governor's message comes as Colorado wilts under some of the driest conditions in history and fears grow that the stage has been set for the worst fire season the state has ever seen.

Owens also asked residents to remain alert for fires, especially in areas adjacent to forest lands, saying some areas of Colorado are facing the driest conditions in a century.

"This is a statewide emergency that requires a statewide response," Owens said at a news conference attended by forestry, park and agricultural officials.

He spoke just two hours before a blaze erupted near Bailey. Smoke from the fire was visible throughout the metro area.

"This is only April. This is going to be a long, dry summer," Owens said.

A statewide drought declaration saves Colorado's counties time because they won't have to declare individual disasters, and it frees up federal money for farmers and ranchers to get low-interest loans and other assistance.

It is the first time in state history that a governor has asked for this type of declaration.

In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Owens said that "farmers and ranchers throughout the state are suffering the effects of this multiyear drought. Many of our reservoirs were drained last year to keep our crops alive, and the lack of adequate snowfall this winter makes this a serious crisis."

Last week, Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer asked the federal government to declare his state a natural-disaster area because of severe drought conditions there.

Already this year, there have been 283 fires in the state that have consumed 7,600 acres in a wildfire season that began two months early, Owens said. In 2000, the worst fire season in 50 years, there were 54 fires that burned 2,700 acres this early in the season.

"By all measures, this is the worst we've seen," Colorado chief forester Jim Hubbard said. "We've seen some of the drought conditions at separate times but never all of them all at once."

Owens ordered the release of $450,000 in disaster emergency aid to Colorado's forestry division to help mobilize firefighters and equipment six weeks earlier than usual. The money will help pay for 80 firefighters and 25 prisoners who have been trained to fight wildfires. It also will place on standby three tanker aircraft for rapid response.

Colorado State Parks Director Lyle Laverty said conditions now are similar to those in July and August. "When temperatures heat up, things could become explosive," Laverty said. "We're deeply concerned about the risk of fire in state parks."

Laverty said parks officials plan to start "taking out some of the trees, especially the smaller ones" in various state parks in an effort to minimize the fire danger.

Owens asked the state Drought Task Force to meet today to consider options for dealing with the drought. He asked the panel to report back by next Wednesday so he can seek legislative empowerment, if necessary.

Owens said the average statewide snowpack is only 27 percent of normal, grasses have about 4 percent of normal moisture and trees about 10 percent of normal.

The snowpack percentage is measured against a 30-year average. Melting snow contributes about 80 percent of the water in rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs, which make up much of the state's water supply.

Owens said he would not impose water or fire restrictions but urged Coloradans to voluntarily conserve water where possible.

"Now is the time to start conserving water," he said. "We can all do our part to conserve our water resources and protect our beautiful state."

Owens also urged counties "to seriously consider and evaluate instituting a ban on all fires wherever and whenever necessary."


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penumbra





Joined: 24 Apr 2001
Posts: 672
Location: North Carolina
PostFri Apr 26, 2002 4:55 pm  Reply with quote  

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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostSun Apr 28, 2002 7:09 am  Reply with quote  

Savageau: Take drought seriously
By Ryan Jockers
Staff Writer Greenwich Time

April 27, 2002

In these dry times, Denise Savageau is surprised at some of the things people want to do with water.

Like the resident who called her to see if it was OK, during a drought emergency, to fill her reflecting pool, or the one who wanted to irrigate his property of trees and shrubs.

"I'm like, 'What part of "emergency" do you not get?' " Savageau said. "Do you want to drink the water? Or do you want a green lawn?"

Savageau, the town's conservation director, spoke about water supply and the prevailing drought yesterday at the YWCA as part of a series of Friday luncheon lectures sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greenwich.

Savageau stressed the drought's severity. Since October, rainfall in the region is 13.7 inches less than normal. The town entered the second phase of a water supply emergency plan on April 19. The plan asks residents and businesses on public water and private wells to reduce water use by 20 percent.

Unlike droughts that occur during the summer, Savageau said, this one is alarming because water use in Greenwich goes up 50 percent in May and through the summer months, to 18 million gallons a day. She said streams are low throughout the state because groundwater is too low to replenish them.

And the rain the area does receive, she said, will not increase reservoir levels much because it will be sucked up by the vegetation that has prematurely sprung back to life in recent weeks.

"We are in a drought emergency," Savageau said. "We need to take that seriously."

She said it is too early to determine if the town will enter the third phase of the emergency plan. "It will depend on the weather," she said.

The drought has affected the Northeast, with New Jersey and most of New Hampshire and parts of Pennsylvania declaring a drought emergency. Portions of New York, Rhode Island and Maryland are in various stages of drought warnings and watches. Most of Connecticut is in a drought advisory, with Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex counties in a drought watch.

Savageau compared the current drought to one in the 1960s and said this one is worse because at least water levels rose in the fall and winter during that drought. But with a dry fall and below-average precipitation this past winter, ground levels in some parts of the state are the lowest they have ever been, according to statistics kept by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The current mandatory water restrictions in Greenwich prohibit the watering of lawns. New lawns can be irrigated with a variance from the Conservation Commission.

Outdoor uses of water, such as car-washing and pool-filling, are prohibited as well. Small businesses can get a variance to power wash homes. http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/local/scn-gt-drought4apr27.story?coll=green%2Dnews%2Dlocal%2Dheadlines
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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostSun Apr 28, 2002 6:26 pm  Reply with quote  

We were chemmed really heavily yesterday and they were spraying really heavily over Greenwich, Norwalk and Darien as well as Stamford. It was about 2:00 PM when we noticed them spraying and they continued to spray us until 7:00 PM. I was kind of wondering why we got hit so heavily since there wasn't a cloud in the sky, but the clouds rolled in sometime around midnight and it started raining around 1:30 AM. It's still raining now but so far the precipitation has only amounted to 1.16" at a rate now of only 0.04" an hour.
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Deborah





Joined: 30 Jul 2000
Posts: 731
Location: East Coast
PostFri May 03, 2002 3:42 am  Reply with quote  

2 May 2002
Boston.com

FEMA rejects Maine's application for disaster declaration

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) The Federal Emergency Management Agency will not declare a drought disaster in Maine and will not make money available to the state to combat the drought's damage.

"The required response is not beyond the combined capabilities of the state and local governments and a major disaster declaration is not warranted," FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh said in a letter sent Tuesday to Gov. Angus King.

FEMA has never declared a disaster based on drought conditions. Typically, the declarations are for flooding, forest fires and large snow or ice storms.

The declaration could have provided money for public entities, such as water districts, and for some individuals who had to drill new wells because of the drought.

"Obviously we are disappointed," Lynette Miller of the Maine Emergency Management Agency said. "We knew this was going to be a difficult process."

The state has 30 days to appeal the decision.

King will review the letter and decide whether to appeal, according to spokesman Tony Sprague.

Allbaugh also said that some public entities, such as utilities and public water suppliers, suffered damages because of the drought but that many of the major utility projects may be eligible for funds from other federal agencies.

A project that pipes water from Kittery to York, for example, may be eligible for assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service, Allbaugh wrote.

Allbaugh did not explain why FEMA rejected the application for individuals, and did not mention alternative sources of assistance.

The state had sought low-interest loans and other forms of federal relief for homeowners who had to drill replacement wells.

Elderly poor residents already qualify for grants or low-interest loans from the U.S. Rural Development program.

The request King submitted to FEMA in April included information from a telephone survey that indicated up to 17,372 households had wells go dry at some time in the previous nine months.

Since last month, MEMA has received calls from 1,500 people who said their wells had gone dry.

The state recorded its driest year in 107 years in 2001. Rainfall has been substantially below normal for the past 12 months.

Recent rainfalls have lifted lake and stream levels, but groundwater levels remain below normal in southern Maine.

[link]http://www.boston.com/dailynews/122/region/FEMA_rejects_Maine_s_applicatiP.shtml[/link]
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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostFri May 03, 2002 6:57 am  Reply with quote  

We're still seeing a pattern of heavy spraying before storm fronts move in here.

We got chemmed on 4/27 and it rained on 4/28.
On 4/29 the sky was covered by a thick haze.
On 4/30 and 5/1 we got chemmed again and on 5/2 it rained again.

The total amount of precipitation for April was approximately 4.30". Since 5/1 we have had only 0.66" of precipitation. Over the past few nights after it has rained, a weird ground fog has developed and it seems like a good percentage of the precipitation is being sucked back up into the atmosphere. It stopped raining just before midnight and the fog is expected to develop again.
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hitech_46253





Joined: 16 May 2001
Posts: 499
Location: Indianapolis, IN U.S.
PostFri May 03, 2002 5:31 pm  Reply with quote  

TX: Valley Farmers Threaten Bridge Blockade International Bridge http://www.sierratimes.com/02/05/03/artx050302.htm
BROWNSVILLE - U.S. Farmers on the Lower Rio Grande Valley are being hit with a hammered due to a drought, and a country to the south that is not holding up their end of a water treaty. But this time, they are threatening to throw down the gauntlet. There is a plan in the works to blockade three international bridges in protest of the U.S. State Department's failure to get Mexico to comply with international treaty obligations.

C'Mon J.J. Connect the DOTS to the CHEMTRAILS CAUSING THE DROUGHT!! It's NOT conspiracy THEORY. It's FACT!!)
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3T3L1





Joined: 08 Mar 2001
Posts: 1344
Location: Lubbock, Texas
PostFri May 03, 2002 7:01 pm  Reply with quote  

Wildfires (probably set intentionally) are taking advantage of very dry conditions in the mountains of southeastern New Mexico. So far this one has missed our cabin by two miles:


quote:
05/02/02: Penasco (Lincoln NF) 11,500 acres. Unknown cause, started 4/30. No estimate of containment. The fire is located 15 miles southeast of Cloudcroft, NM burning in Ponderosa Pine and mixed conifer. Winds and smoke yesterday prevented air resources from flying the fire. As a result, it was very difficult to determine a fire size. Extreme and erratic fire behavior was observed throughout the day. Lines established early yesterday morning were lost with the fire crossing into Cox and Penasco Canyon, east of Highway 24/130. Twenty structures were destroyed. Evacuations of local residences remain in effect as the fire extends its perimeter up against the community of Mayhill. Other resources threatened include watershed and a USFS campground. Actions planned for today include continuation of evacuations as needed, mobilizing resources, stabilizing the anchor point, identifying access points, protecting structures, and beginning flanking attack. Major problems and concerns for today include continuation of high winds at 25-35 mph, dry conditions, and rugged terrain. A SWA Type 1 Team (Bateman) is managing the fire. 4 Type 1 crew, 5 Type 2 crews, 2 helicopters, and 16 engines assigned. Total 295 personnel assigned.




quote:
05/03/02: PEÑASCO is being reported at 9,500 acres. A change has been made in acreage to better equate with the official acreage reported through last evening. The fire is burning 15 miles southeast of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, in the Wills Canyon area in Lincoln National Forest. There is no estimate of containment. Twenty homes have been lost and 600 continue to be threatened. An evacuation center has been set up at Cloudcroft High School. Van Bateman's Southwest Area Type I Incident Management Team is managing the fire. High winds throughout yesterday led to extreme, erratic fire behavior and most existing containment lines were lost. PEÑASCO is threatening the village of Mayhill and structures along Highway 82. Resources assigned: 9 air tankers, 6 helicopters, 18 engines, 12 dozers, 11 water tenders, 8 Type I crews, and 17 Type II crews.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/
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KrissaTMC2





Joined: 05 Feb 2002
Posts: 472
Location: Greenwich, CT, USA
PostSun May 05, 2002 12:47 am  Reply with quote  

Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Taiwan to buy water from China

Drought-stricken Taiwan has allowed one of its outlying islands to import water from China for the first time.

A Taiwanese vessel set sail on Friday to buy water from China's south-eastern province of Fujian and take it to Matsu, an island in the Taiwan Strait which Taiwan controls.

Taiwan is suffering its worst drought in decades, with the island of Matsu, which is mainly populated by a Taiwanese military garrison, particularly affected.

This voyage is the first approved by Taipei since it lifted a half-century ban on direct transport, commerce and postal links between Kinmen and Matsu islands with mainland China in January 2001.

"This is the first time we have been allowed to buy water from the mainland - something that was unthinkable before," said an official on Matsu island, which lies closer to the Chinese coast than to the main island of Taiwan.

"We have been waiting for rains for months. The situation is quite desperate."

Rationing

The ship is due to bring back 2,000 tonnes of water - roughly one day's supply. But Matsu is considering buying another month's supply later.


Previous requests from Taiwan's islands to import water from China had been turned down by Taipei authorities over security fears.

China and Taiwan have been bitter rivals since their split in 1949 following a civil war. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province that must be re-unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

On Taiwan itself, restrictions on water use have been imposed in some areas.

Swimming pools have been closed and the authorities are no longer watering public parks or using water to clean the streets.

They are warning that the restrictions will increase if the severe water shortage continues. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_1966000/1966479.stm


U.S. Suspects Mexico Hoarding Water
Fri May 3, 8:18 AM ET

By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer

CIUDAD DELICIAS, Mexico (AP) - Normally, Eduardo Melendez's healthy pecan trees and thick carpet of vibrant green alfalfa would draw admiration.

But this year, fields such as his in the drought-stricken Mexican state of Chihuahua are raising angry suspicions in a bitter fight for Rio Grande water that threatens relations between the United States and Mexico.

U.S. officials say that under a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes Texas farmers 1.5 million acre-feet of water. Each acre-foot is enough to cover one acre of land with one foot of water, an amount equivalent to 326,000 gallons.

The treaty gives Mexico a larger quantity of water, but via the Colorado River far to the west.

Mexico says that because of drought, it doesn't have the water to pay the growing debt here. But South Texas farmers and even Mexican farmers in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas accuse Chihuahua growers of ignoring the treaty.

Texas farmers were to meet with U.S. legislators Friday in Brownsville, Texas to show them dying fields and urge Congress to stall legislation sought by Mexico, such as agreements on immigration, until the matter is resolved.

Outside the city of Delicias, verdant fields contrast with the stark, brown mountains. Waist-high wheat waves in the breeze and alfalfa blankets fields near lush pecan orchards. The fields are fed by metal tubes carrying water from canals.

Delicias is near the Rio Conchos, the main tributary feeding the Rio Grande.

A study by Texas A & M University reported that Chihuahua farms have expanded even as Mexico reneged on water payments. Texas farmers say the water shortage has cost them an estimated $1 billion so far.

The study found Chihuahua's production of thirsty crops like corn and alfalfa jumped more than 60 percent between the drought years of 1995 and 1999.

"We were really shocked," said Parr Rosson, who headed the study.

Rosson said Chihuahua's water use rose to 2.3 million acre feet from 1.2 million between 1980 and 1997, though it dropped to 1.6 million in 1999.

Since the study ended, corn acreage increased by another 25 percent and that of alfalfa by 11 percent, he said.

A Chihuahua state agriculture official, Jesus Dominguez, disputed the claims, saying, "That's false. They have to show proof." He said a formal response had to come from Mexico's foreign relations department in Mexico city.

Earlier this week, the department issued a statement by legal adviser Alberto Szekely insisting that Mexico was trying to meet its obligations.

"We would be complying if we have water, if there had not been an extraordinary drought," he said. "It cannot be said that we are not complying, because it is materially impossible at the moment to comply with the treaty."

But he admitted that Mexico needed "a much wiser, very much more intelligent use" of water than in the past.

Chihuahua growers say falling prices for drought-resistant crops left them no choice but to turn to more thirsty fields. "There was no way out other than by planting alfalfa," Melendez said.

Farmers here say they are hurting too. The area's reservoirs are at less than 25 percent capacity.

"The water levels have dropped so low that cars and bodies started appearing," agricultural engineer Humberto Estrada said. "They found the body of a mayor who was missing. All kinds of things at the bottom of the dam have started appearing over the past few years."

Many farmers have drilled wells to tap groundwater to support the thirstier, high-value crops. Chihuahua has huge lakes hundreds of feet underground.

Those wells, however, could also be lowering the levels of the Rio Conchos, which flows over the underground lakes, according to Rosson.

"It's a slow process, but pumping and pumping over time could be causing less flow down to the Rio Grande," Rosson said.

Rosson agrees that Mexico doesn't have the water to pay, but he said Texas would like to see gestures of good faith, such as investment in more efficient irrigation systems. Melendez's farm uses individual sprinklers to water each pecan tree, ensuring that the water gets to the roots. But most growers continue to use the least-expensive method: flooding fields, losing large amounts of water to evaporation.

Texas farmers say Mexico must drastically reduce the water supply for Chihuahua farmers.

"Why should they have the water and not us, when they're using water that's illegal? That water belongs to somebody else, not them," said Jo Jo White, irrigation manager in Mercedes, Texas. "We've suffered a hardship for seven years because of this illegal act. ... Now it's time to teach them a hard and bitter lesson." http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020503/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/mexico_border_water_5


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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostMon May 06, 2002 8:43 am  Reply with quote  

Where there's a well, there's a way: City resident offers free water to help ease drought
By Louis Porter
Staff Writer

May 6, 2002

STAMFORD -- Two spring-fed ponds and a small stream are on Lee Pepin's property. He believes they could be used to help fill the North Stamford reservoir, depleted by drought.

"If you dig a hole in the ground here 3 to 5 feet deep, you can pump for hours and hours and not even deplete it," said Pepin, owner of the plant nursery Designs by Lee.

He wonders why the Aquarion Water Co. of Connecticut, which provides the city's water, has not taken advantage of his offer of free water from his land.

"This town has been good to me. I don't want a penny for it," Pepin said.

The water company, which changed its name recently from BHC Co. to Aquarion Water Co. of Connecticut, could take more than 1 million gallons a day from the property, Pepin said.

He said he uses 100,000 gallons a day for his nursery without bringing down the level appreciably.

That estimate is much too high, said Peter Galant, vice president of engineering and utility operations for Aquarion.

Stamford Water Co., which was acquired by BHC Co., used the water from Pepin's property during droughts in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the two men say.

While Pepin remembers the water company pumping as much as 1.3 million gallons a day, Galant said his records show the amount was about 250,000 gallons a day, even during periods with more rain than the region has had recently.

That's splitting hairs to Ben Barnes, the city's director of public safety, health and welfare. If the water company had been pumping even a small amount from the property over the past few months it would have added up, he said.

"I've raised the issue with BHC," Barnes said. "I'm a little concerned that BHC is not more active about pursuing it."

Pepin said the water company should have been pumping the water from his land all winter.

"They've had the ability to pump out of here since November, why didn't they do it?" he said.

Galant said the water company only recently began investigating other sources it could use to replenish the reservoirs.

Stamford reservoirs were 69 percent full Wednesday. They should be 95 percent full at this time of year, Aquarion spokeswoman Adrienne Vaughan said. Recent rains have raised the level from 66 percent in mid-April.

Galant said the quality of the water on Pepin's land is suspect. A preliminary test revealed elevated bacteria levels, he said. Livestock at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center upstream could be responsible, Galant said.

While the bacteria levels might not preclude using the water, it makes it risky, he said.

In addition, the pond on Pepin's land has silted up and would have to be dredged before a pump could be installed to draw water. Piping and other equipment also would be needed, Galant said.

Glenn Thornhill, the city's drought consultant, agreed those issues could be problematic. But he said he thinks the water could be used, and the city will push for it if the drought continues.

"It is something that certainly could be done," he said.

Thornhill, a president and chief operating officer of Stamford Water Co. before working for BHC, said the water on Pepin's land may not have been used in recent months because it was forgotten.

"It's something that not that many people are knowledgeable about," Thornhill said. "It is only used during a drought so it tends to fall into disrepair."

Use of Pepin's water was discontinued in 1981 because residents downstream of the property were concerned that not allowing the water to run in the stream-bed was environmentally harmful, Galant said.

But Pepin says obstacles to using the water are not insurmountable.

"Why put so many people out of business?" he said. "Everybody in the horticulture industry is hurting because of this drought."

Aquarion is working to find other reserves, such as refurbishing wells along Wire Mill Road. That effort could produce as much water as would come from Pepin's nursery, Galant said.

The water company may use water from Pepin's land, which it lists as an emergency source with the state, if the drought continues, Galant said.

"We haven't completely discounted it," Galant said. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/local/scn-sa-nursery4may06.story?coll=stam%2Dnews%2Dlocal%2Dheadlines

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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostMon May 06, 2002 9:07 am  Reply with quote  

Fire Near Evergreen, Colo., Forces Evacuation of More Than 2,400 Homes
The Associated Press
May 5, 2002

EVERGREEN, Colo. (AP) - A wildfire forced the evacuation of more than 2,400 dwellings Sunday as it spread toward several subdivisions west of Denver. Thick smoke was visible in Denver, about 26 miles away. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office was trying to evacuate houses within a two-mile radius of the blaze. It was unclear how the 400-acre fire started. Officials said gusting wind grounded air tankers and hampered firefighters' efforts. "We haven't been able to get crews in front of it because this is simply just too dangerous," fire information officer Joe Colwell said. More than 400 wildfires have burned about 15,600 acres in Colorado this year, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center of the National Interagency Fire Center. Meanwhile, firefighters said a 15,400-acre fire that had destroyed 20 structures in southern New Mexico was 65 percent contained. Full containment was predicted by midweek. http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGAHQBMSV0D.html
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hitech_46253





Joined: 16 May 2001
Posts: 499
Location: Indianapolis, IN U.S.
PostMon May 06, 2002 1:37 pm  Reply with quote  

Chinese water shipment arrives in parched Taiwan (Reuters) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020505/wl_asia_nm/asia_103484_1
A ship with more than 2,000 tonnes of water arrived in drought-hit Taiwan from China on Sunday in an unprecedented water-buying mission, but government officials warned against relying on continued shipments.

Drought-stricken Taiwan buys water from Red China http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_1966000/1966479.stm
Drought-stricken Taiwan has allowed one of its outlying islands to import water from China for the first time.

Taiwan to ration water as drought bites (Reuters) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020502/wl_asia_nm/asia_103069_1
Drought-stricken Taiwan, where there has been a run on bottled water, will start water rationing on Friday, cutting supplies to car-wash operators, swimming pools, saunas and other non-essential services.

Dry year in Guangdong extends drought (Reuters) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020504/wl_asia_nm/asia_103375_2
A rare drought that began last autumn has continued this year with little or no rainfall in most parts of China's southern province of Guangdong, affecting farming and daily life, state media said on Saturday.

Sneezing? Sniffling? It feels like an allergy, but it's not (The Arizona Daily Star) http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/azstar/20020502/lo/sneezing_sniffling_it_feels_like_an_allergy_but_it_s_not_1.html
We're in the middle of a major drought, almost nothing is blooming out there but, like true Southern Arizonans, we are honking and sniffling to beat the band anyway.

Record warmth intensified drought, say experts (weather.com) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/wcom/20020504/we_wcom/record_warmth_intensified_drought__say_experts
Record temperatures and a lack of precipitation are cited in a drought plaguing the East Coast. Also: See how the drought revealed a shipwreck.

2001: What weather made news? (weather.com) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/wcom/20020504/we_wcom/2001__what_weather_made_news_
From tornadoes to drought, hurricanes to wildfires, snow to heatwaves. When it came to weather in 2001, the year was unlike any other.

Dams, and Politics, Channel Flow of the Mighty Missouri (The New York Times) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nyt/20020505/ts_nyt/dams__and_politics__channel_flow_of_the_mighty_missouri
...In drought years, this has stranded docks and marinas hundreds of feet from the water's edge and chased...
Big Storms for Texas (weather.com)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/wcom/20020504/we_wcom/big_storms_for_texas
...Drought conditions persist throughout the Southwest from Los Angeles to Phoenix to Denver to southern...

Homeowners keep wildfires at bay with timely preps (weather.com)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/wcom/20020504/we_wcom/homeowners_keep_wildfires_at_bay_with_timely_preps
...A widespread drought, the recent dry winter and an increasing number of rural homes together raise the chance that...

No relief for Southwest, retro weather in Northwest Sunday (weather.com)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/wcom/20020504/we_wcom/no_relief_for_southwest__retro_weather_in_northwest_sunday
... will blanket the Southwest tomorrow, offering no hope of relief from the severe to extreme drought and wildfire danger gripping the region....

Elephants, hippos threaten food situation in Malawi's lakeshore district (AP)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020504/ap_wo_en_ge/malawi_food_crisis_2
...A combination of drought and floods have resulted in a huge decrease in corn harvests this year,...

International Red Cross Federation appeals for southern African drought funds (AP)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020502/ap_wo_en_ge/red_cross_drought_1
The international Red Cross movement on Thursday appealed for 6.8 million Swiss francs (dlrs 4.25 million) to help support 450,000 people in the drought-hit southern African nations of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

April Ends Dry, May Gets Wet Start (WYFF TheCarolinaChannel.com)
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/wyff/20020502/lo/1181131_1.html
Drought still has the Carolinas and Georgia in a tight grip, despite the welcome rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Locust Cycle' May Bug Street for Years (Reuters)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020504/bs_nm/column_stocks_week_dc_11
... return of the bull market that hung on from 1982 to 2000, may instead be faced with a profit drought that could last for years....


TX: Valley Farmers Threaten Bridge Blockade International Bridge To Protest Mexico's Water Takings http://http://www.sierratimes.com/02/05/03/artx050302.htm
BROWNSVILLE - U.S. Farmers on the Lower Rio Grande Valley are being hit with a hammered due to a drought, and a country to the south that is not holding up their end of a water treaty. But this time, they are threatening to throw down the gauntlet. There is a plan in the works to blockade three international bridges in protest of the U.S.
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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostThu May 09, 2002 7:24 pm  Reply with quote  

Drought threatens Asian crop harvests as El Nino looms
Wed May 8, 7:18 AM ET
By Michael Byrnes

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Unseasonal dry weather in the Asia-Pacific, as a drought-inducing El Nino looms, is threatening harvests from the tropical coconut plantations of the Philippines to the temperate wheat fields of Australia.

Regional weather officials say conditions are ripe for the return of the feared El Nino phenomenon, which has been brewing in the Pacific for some time, though it may only be a weak one. But even weak El Ninos can wreak havoc and officials of some countries heavily dependent on agriculture are worried crimped harvests may disrupt the livelihoods of farmers, result in costly imports and in the worst case scenario breed social unrest.

The recurring El Nino, Spanish for "boy child", is caused by sea temperature changes interacting with the atmosphere. It typically causes drought in Asia and Australia and floods in western parts of the United States and South America. The severe El Nino of 1997/98 cost an estimated US$34 billion worldwide, killed 24,000 people and displaced six million.

Concern is rising in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, one of the most heavily populated countries of Asia, about supplies of its main staple, rice. "There have been some delays in rice planting in several regions because of low water supplies," Agriculture Minister Bungaran Saragih told Reuters. "We have to watch out for the impact on rice paddy." He said 14 to 16 of the country's 30 far-flung provinces were seen facing water supply crises around September because of the imminent return of El Nino.

Indonesian memories are still strong of the 1.5 million tonnes of rice lost because of the El Nino of 1997/1998.

EL NINO THREAT PERSISTS

Australia's weather bureau now sees a 60 percent chance that a 2002 El Nino will form -- a slight increase in probability in recent months. But sea surface temperatures near South America had cooled slightly in the last two to three weeks, an anti-El Nino trend, spokesman Grant Beard noted. This does not lessen the threat.

Australian studies back to 1902/03 show that even weak El Ninos can pack a powerful punch. Australia's wheat authority AWB Ltd, the main source of most of Asia's imported bread-making wheat, believes that persistent dry weather in eastern Australia, heralding the prospect of an El Nino, has begun to eat into the size of this season's crop.

"Farmers (are) sitting on the fence," AWB crop forecaster Gavin Warburton said as Australia's wheat planting season begins.

Farmers deciding not to waste seed were worried about the dry weather, he said. Australia was first seen producing a bumper wheat crop of 24 million tonnes this year. If it does not, supplies for Asia will be tighter than first thought and bread prices could rise.

China's Central Meteorological Station in Beijing expects an El Nino later this year. An official said it simply was not known how badly drought could affect sugarcane, rice and tea crops. But drought has already hit more than 10 percent of China's farmland this year, hampering corn and soybean planting. The corn-growing province of Jilin has had its worst spring drought in 20 years, after last year's summer drought in China, the worst in more than a decade, which contributed to a 2.1 percent fall in grains output.

TAWIAN RATIONING
Across the strait, Taiwan this week received an unprecedented 2,000-tonne shipment of water purchased from rival China. This alleviated a shortage which has caused a run on bottled water and triggered rationing to non-essential services -- but, predictably, raised fears about dependence on Beijing. There was no clear evidence that an expected mild El Nino was to blame for the drought, Chen Guay-hong, long-range forecast section chief of Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, told Reuters.

One island chain south, the Philippines expects an El Nino to hit in late September or early October and to last until mid-2003, weather bureau meteorologist Daisy Ortega said. Agriculture officials said they expect the resulting dry spell to affect harvests of rice and copra next year. Malaysia's Meteorological Services Department said it expected a weak to moderate El Nino to form at the end of the year after an unrelated dry spell in February and March caused forest fires and government bans on open burning.

A government official predicted El Nino could trim palm oil production to 11 million tonnes this year from 11.8 million tonnes in 2001. Malaysia is the world's top producer of palm oil, used mainly in cooking. India, which produces millions of tonnes of wheat, rice and sugar for its many billions, is more sanguine.

Vital southwest June-September monsoons that are essential for crops would not be affected, S.R. Kalsi, deputy director general of the India Meteorological Department, said. Neighbour Pakistan is not so sure. "We estimate that 30 percent less rainfall is expected during the next monsoon," said senior weather official Arif Mahmood.

Pakistani farmers would face another season of water shortages, partly because of El Nino drought draining major reservoirs, said Shaukat Usman, a senior official in Pakistan's agriculture and livestocks ministry. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20020508/wl_asia_nm/asia_103968_1
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Dan Rockwell





Joined: 10 Dec 2001
Posts: 1988
Location: Stamford, CT, USA
PostSun May 12, 2002 4:59 am  Reply with quote  

Drought has state firmly in its grip

Shaun McKinnon
The Arizona Republic
May 09, 2002 12:00:00

Arizona's dry winter choked off mountain streams and rivers, producing the sparsest spring runoff in more than 120 years for reservoirs that supply much of the Valley's drinking water.

Conditions have become bleak in many parts of the state as the drought tightens its hold:

• Dry weather has devastated wildlife habitat in many places, forcing wild animals into populated areas to seek food and water.

Nineteen pronghorn antelope have died along highways near Prescott since March, nearly all after being hit by passing vehicles. Ranchers are preparing to help animals by hauling water to dried-up catch basins outside Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim.

• Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, normally the state's largest natural lake, has been reduced to dust. Once-mighty San Carlos Lake, behind Coolidge Dam southeast of Phoenix, has shrunk to 5 percent of its capacity. Water levels in Lakes Mead and Powell on the Colorado River continue to drop, Mead to 30-year lows as demands for water increase downstream.

• Nearly 80,000 acres of forests and wild lands have burned since the first of the year. Tinderbox conditions have pushed the fire danger to extreme levels. Sparks from a blown tire rim ignited a blaze last weekend that charred 10,000 acres outside Springerville.

• Flagstaff will impose mandatory outdoor watering restrictions Friday after voluntary curbs put into place a month ago failed to reduce consumption. Without restrictions, the city would be unable to take additional water from one of its primary sources, the ever-shrinking Lake Mary.

All of Arizona is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions, according to the most widely used measure. Snowpack was low throughout the state, and every weather station is reporting significantly below-normal rainfall.The scant snowpack above the Salt and Verde rivers will feed less than one-sixth the usual amount of water into Salt River Project's reservoir system.

The reservoirs hold enough to see the Valley through this year, but another lean winter would force SRP to ration resources and lead to at least voluntary restrictions in some cities.Water experts are keeping a close eye on the long-term weather outlook, including the possibility that the coming winter will be influenced by the El Niño phenomenon.

That often means wet winters in Arizona, but "it's not a sure thing," said Charlie Ester, manager of water resource operations for Salt River Project, the Valley's biggest supplier.

By SRP's reckoning, this is the fourth consecutive dry winter and the sixth in seven years. All told, Ester said, those seven years have been worse than the drought of 1898-1904, which led to the construction of the original Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River.

To get through this summer, SRP will pump more groundwater and will borrow at least 150,000 acre-feet from the Central Arizona Project Canal, which is running at slightly above-average levels. By September, the utility will study its resources and the weather outlook and then decide whether to curb deliveries for next year.

Ester said given the dismal conditions so far, only an unusually wet winter could forestall cutbacks.But water shortages won't be the first sign of the drought for many Valley residents. Dry conditions across wildlife habitats will likely send wild animals in search of food and water fairly soon, said Rory Aikens, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Game and Fish."The desert's getting dry, and there's not a lot of food or water," Aikens said. "Then down here, we create these nice, lush irrigated habitats that are full of food."

Yards and gardens attract smaller animals, like rabbits or other rodents, which then attract bigger predators, such as coyotes or foxes.The early appearance of pronghorn antelope outside Prescott surprised biologists, who say the animals are turning up in areas they usually never go near.

Ranchers and other wildlife managers are working on plans to haul water to locations near Flagstaff and on the Mogollon Rim, where earthen livestock tanks sit dry after a nearly snowless winter. Cathy Taylor, a wildlife biologist for Coconino National Forest, said the water will help animals that depend on the ranch tanks."We're not going to be able to haul enough water to make a big change in the amount available, but it will help a little in some key areas," she said.

Because of the fire danger, most national forests imposed restrictions in early April, and most expect to at least consider closing areas to public use by late summer. Since January, 862 fires have been reported on government lands, 728 of them human-caused.

"We've had more brush fires since the start of this calendar year than ever before," Payson Fire Chief John Ross said. "So far, we've been able to knock them down quickly. But we need people to understand when they come up here that it's very dry season."

Rangers are also noticing the drought's effect on trees and plants. Bob Dyson, a spokesman for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, said Douglas fir trees are beginning to die of a lack of water, and even drought-resistant trees such as junipers and piñon pines are starting to show stress.

Recovery from an extended drought could take years in some forest areas, but SRP's Ester said the Valley's water supply could turn around with one exceptional winter. He noted that in 1993, when runoff flooded many areas of the state, SRP received more than 4 million acre-feet of water from the snowpack, nearly double the system's capacity. "A wet winter could fix us up in no time," Ester said. "That's life in the desert." http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0509drought09.html
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