We note what appears to be an inexorable progress of drought across the Southeast and Southwest US. Our post will touch on increasing fire danger, crop prospects, and effect on insect pests. North Americans are perhaps overly used to having sufficient food, water, and an amiable environment. We hope that our former blessings are not on the way to becoming curses. When municipalities begin to run our of primary water sources and importing bottled water is seriously considered for cooking and drinking, we can see that the situation is becoming desperate. We have endeavored to present an overview of this problem so the reader can dig deeper into any local area that may be of interest.
From China Daily: In the town of Robert Lee, a rural farming community of about 1,000 in the middle of West Texas, people are worried that Lake EV Spence could dry up by winter and leave the town without any water. Some residents wonder if the National Guard can haul in water. Making matters worse, a pipe that was probably busted by the dry, shifting ground began gushing water the town cannot spare. City workers scrambled Thursday to fix it. Closer to Austin, the Llano River trickled at a rate about 95 percent slower than normal. The city of Llano already has contacted bottled water distributors about supplying residents with bottles for cooking and drinking if the river flow stops entirely, which could happen in a matter of weeks.
"It's amazing we're still getting what water we are," City Manager Finley deGraffenried said.
From Wenatchee World: Some wells have already gone dry, and the solution has generally been to just drill a deeper well, said Paul Stoker, executive director of the Columbia Basin Groundwater Management Area. But he said a study by the group shows that deeper water won’t be there, won’t be usable or will be too expensive to access in the future. The aquifer had about 50 million acre-feet of accessible water in 1960, and 40 million acre-feet have already been pumped out, he said.
From Bloomberg: While the system dropped as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on parts of Florida after going ashore near Jacksonville on May 28, it won’t slake the state’s parched soil. “The soils were so dry the rivers and the ground water aren’t responding that much,” said David Zierden, state climatologist based at Florida State University in Tallahassee. “It certainly isn’t enough to bring us out of drought or make up for deficiencies we have been accumulating for two years.”
From Agweb: The Southwest and Florida continue to struggle with extended drought. New Mexico and Arizona remain in severe drought with very poor pasture conditions across the majority of the state. In addition, wildfires continue to plague that area.
From Guardian: Much of the state was covered in a haze, with local television stations reporting poor air quality in Albuquerque, some 170 miles away. High winds, with gusts of 60mph were expected until Sunday, blocking fire crews from cutting a containment line ahead of the fire. In Arizona, meanwhile, more than 1,100 fighters, backed up by aircraft, were slowly containing the most dangerous fire,the Gladiator fire, which had forced the evacuation of the old mining ton of Crown King and consumed 27 square miles of pine and brush north of Phoenix.
From CS Monitor: Winds upwards of 50 miles an hour drove the Whitewater-Baldy fire's initial expansion. Now, winds are lighter. But daytime temperatures are high and the humidity is in the single digits. Any ember or spark carried ahead of the blaze is virtually guaranteed to ignite any vegetation it touches, according to fire officials quoted in the Las Cruces Sun-News.
From SMH: The wheat crop in the US southern plains is “likely to be reduced because of acreage abandonment - farmers plowing up ground that has virtually nothing for production - and yields on the wheat that is harvested will likely be low as well,” Bryce Anderson, an agricultural meteorologist at DTN, said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg questions. “The wheat areas of the US and China are in line to be the last to recover.” China's average wheat yield may decline at least 1 per cent because of the drought, Michael Ferrari, vice president for applied technology and research at forecaster Weather Trends International, said February 22.
From Star-Telegram: East: Soils continued to dry out due to lack of rain, increased temperatures and high winds. Grass growth slowed, and most ryegrass was already baled. Cattle were in good condition. The fly population on cows continued to build. Feral hogs were active. Grasshopper numbers increased in pastures. Vegetables were selling well at local markets. Blueberry and blackberry growers began harvesting.
Insect pests predicted to be numerous in summer 2012
From PR Web: This year’s unusually mild winter and the early onset of warm temperatures has led to the early emergence of ticks searching for a fresh, warm-blooded meal. In addition, a smaller crop of acorns is reported to be a contributing factor as it reduced the population of white-footed mice—ticks’ preferred host—causing them to feed more hungrily on humans and pets.
These trends point to greater chances of contracting Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses particularly in the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic and North Central U.S.
From Consumer Affairs: West Nile is one of the main disease threats from mosquitoes. Although most people do not become ill when infected with West Nile virus, all are at risk. Older adults and those with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of becoming ill and developing severe complications. The best defense against West Nile virus is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water around homes, weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires.