United States: Water surpluses forecast for PA, MD, NE, FL; deficits CO, CA, OR

24 August 2018

The 12-month forecast indicates intense water deficits in the Pacific Northwest, Nevada, and the Southern Rockies; significant deficits in California, northern Minnesota, from Missouri to the Gulf and into the Southern Plains; and moderate deficits in the northern Ohio River Valley and scattered throughout the Northeast. Intense surpluses are forecast for the Northern Rockies, the Black Hills along the South Dakota/Wyoming border, and in northern Nebraska. Moderate to severe surpluses are expected in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, northern Virginia, coastal North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, and much of Florida from Jacksonville to Lake Okeechobee.

Outside the contiguous US, surpluses are forecast for Hawaii. In Alaska, surpluses are forecast in the northwest; from Bristol Bay well into the interior; and in the southeast in the upper reaches of the Copper and Susitna Rivers. Deficits are forecast around Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. In Puerto Rico, moderate to severe deficits are expected throughout the country.

The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The near-term forecast through October indicates that widespread, exceptional deficits will diminish overall. However, some intense deficits are forecast for southern California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, along the Arkansas River in Kansas and Colorado, and western Colorado. Moderate deficits are expected in northern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, parts of the northern Ohio River Valley, from Missouri to the Gulf, and pockets of eastern Texas. Some severe deficits are forecast for the eastern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, across northern New York and pockets of the Northeast, and central Georgia.

Intense surpluses will persist in northern Nebraska and in the Black Hills along the South Dakota/Wyoming border, with somewhat less intense surpluses in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Intense surpluses will also persist in southern Montana and north of Billings, but conditions of both deficit and surplus are forecast for the western part of the state as transitions occur. Surpluses of varying intensity will emerge along the Pecos River in New Mexico into Texas, and in east/central Arizona. In the East, surpluses are forecast for eastern Pennsylvania where conditions are expected to be extreme, and for Maryland, northern Virginia, coastal North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, and much of Florida from Jacksonville past Lake Kissimmee.   

From November through January, deficits will decrease nation-wide becoming merely mild, but some intense deficits are forecast for northern Utah, central Colorado, and Kansas. Intense surpluses will persist in northern Nebraska, the Black Hills, and southern Montana, and will re-emerge in western Montana. Surpluses will persist along the Pecos River, and will emerge in northern New Mexico into Colorado, and in additional pockets of Arizona. Some mild surpluses will emerge in the southern Ohio River Valley, and moderate surpluses are expected in eastern Texas and along the Rio Grande, and in Louisiana and Arkansas. In the East, surpluses will shrink in Florida, spread in southern Georgia, and downgrade in Pennsylvania. Mild surpluses may emerge in other eastern states.  

The forecast for the final months – February through April – indicates the emergence of moderate deficits in the Ohio River Valley, and surpluses in the Rockies and along many rivers in the center of the country as well as along the Rio Grande.

 (It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

Through mid-July, beef cow slaughter increased 11 percent year-over-year across all of the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service regions due to drought. Despite strong export demand, prices for frozen beef are expected to be dampened by cold storage inventories above average.

A recent study indicates that drought may be to blame in a 47 percent decline of bird species residents in the Mojave Desert in California and Nevada. The three-year field survey showed that population declines were most pronounced in areas where less water was available.

Two firefighters were killed this month in a fire tornado amid the Carr Fire in Redding, California, upping the fire’s death toll to eight. The Carr Fire has burned over 200,000 acres since its ignition late last month. Wildfires burned more acreage than average this year from the beginning of fire season through the end of July.

Michigan government officials asked the President Trump to issue a federal disaster declaration to assist flood-ravaged communities in the Upper Peninsula, still recovering from damage incurred when strong storms dropped seven to ten inches of rain in several hours in June.

The governor of Pennsylvania signed a proclamation of disaster emergency, after weeks of flooding ravaged the north and central parts of the state. Storms hit a large portion of the northeastern U.S. including New York and New Jersey this month in what appears to be one of the heaviest rain events not affiliated with a tropical storm to ever hit the region. Fifty teenagers were pulled by water rescue teams from a rafting trip on the swollen Lehigh River in Pennsylvania amid an hours-long search-and-rescue effort amid the storm.

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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