Lake Superior fell below normal water level

1 month 2 weeks ago
Drought to the west of Lake Superior has allowed the lake’s level to drop in August below the seasonal average for the first time in more than 7 years. Tributaries in northern Minnesota that typically flow into Lake Superior were barely flowing and, in some cases, not flowing into the massive lake anymore, due to drought. The St. Louis River, the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, was flowing in August at just 10% normal. Lake Superior generally rises from April through August and then slowly drops from September to March. Duluth News Tribune (Minn.), Sept 7, 2021

Releases reduced from Fort Peck Dam in Montana

1 month 2 weeks ago
With August inflows much below average, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to reduce releases from Fort Peck Dam from 9,500 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs in September. Inflows are expected to remain below average for the remainder of 2021. Billings Gazette (Mont.), Sept 3, 2021

Fewer potatoes, tomatoes produced; melons age quickly in southeastern Washington state

1 month 3 weeks ago
The hot, dry summer affected the potatoes, which are less dense and odd-shaped. The yields were disappointing, too. The industry estimates were down maybe 10% in Washington and Oregon. The potatoes also will not store well. The tomato crop was down nearly 30% at a Franklin County, Washington farm. The melons grown there look weeks old within days of being picked. As dry as the soil is, the wheat crop will have to be dusted in this fall. Northwest News Network (Portland, Ore.), Oct 6, 2021

Bluetongue, EHD continue to sicken, kill deer in Eastern Washington

1 month 3 weeks ago
More than 500 sick or dead deer have been reported in Eastern Washington since August. Bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) are transmitted via biting gnats in drought years. Some bighorn sheep herds have also been affected by bluetongue. Spokane Spokesman-Review (Wash.), Oct 10, 2021

Dry weather, heat slashed Washington wheat yield by nearly 50%, barley crop smallest since 1977

1 month 4 weeks ago
Total wheat production in Washington state plummeted nearly 50% to 87.1 million bushels, down from 166 million bushels in 2020. The yield was just 39.1 bushels per acre, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Small Grains 2021 Summary. The lack of rain and heat really hurt the crop. Spring wheat production in 2021 was 16 million bushels, half of 33.2 million bushels produced in 2020, with yields also falling by more than half to 30 bushels per acre in 2021 from 61 bushels per acre in 2020. Winter wheat harvests and yields were almost halved, falling to 70.9 million bushels at 42 bushels per acre in 2021 from 133 million bushels at 76 bushels per acre in 2020. This was the smallest wheat harvest in 57 years, stated the program director for the Washington Grain Commission in Spokane. Washington barley growers planted about 70,000 acres of barley in 2021, compared to 90,000 acres in 2020. The harvest amounted to 2.6 million bushels at 38 bushels per acre from 6.4 million bushels at 90 bushels per acre in 2020. Recent yields in Washington state have been about 70 bushels per acre. This was the lowest barley harvest since 1977. The Seattle Times (Wash.), Oct. 6, 2021 Exceptional drought gripped 38% of Washington state. Washington’s drought has been very hard on farmers, especially in the drier eastern part of the state. Dryland farmers or those irrigating from rain-fed streams have suffered. Washington’s wheat production looks to be about 93 million bushels of wheat this year, the lowest output since 1973, according to the chief executive of the Washington Grain Commission. Last year, the state produced nearly 166 million bushels. The Seattle Times (Wash.), Sept 6, 2021 The wheat crop in Washington state is estimated at 117 million bushels, down from 165 million bushels last year. Some parts of the state experienced a complete crop failure, according to the executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. About 90% of the wheat is unirrigated. The drought is being described as the worst since 1977. Some farmers are certain to be bankrupted by this drought. The soft white winter wheat grown in Oregon and Idaho has also been damaged by drought. Associated Press News (New York), Aug 11, 2021

Summer of searing drought, reduced forage, hay supplies in North Dakota

1 month 4 weeks ago
Drought in North Dakota has been so harsh that it has been compared to the Dust Bowl and 1988. Forage production was poor, due to drought and intense heat, leaving ranchers looking ahead to winter, wondering how to feed the livestock. Auction barns have been busy. This year ranchers have already sold nearly 25% more cattle than last year, according to the North Dakota Stockmen's Association. NPR (Washington, D.C.), Oct. 6, 2021

Drought slammed pear production in Jackson County, Oregon

1 month 4 weeks ago
Drought and the high cost of labor have devastated the pear industry in the Rogue Valley. Harvest was about 25% of normal, and the fruit was smaller and of a lower grade. Irrigation water only flowed through early summer as intense heat gripped the valley. A pear grower in Talent opted to pull out the pear trees on his 75 acres near Talent. Medford Mail Tribune (Ore.), Oct 6, 2021

California's East Bay Municipal Utility District pulling from Sacramento River

1 month 4 weeks ago
The East Bay Municipal Utility District announced that it would begin drawing water from the Sacramento River to increase water supplies. Through February, EBMUB intends to pump 35,250 acre-feet, or about 11 billion gallons, of water, which may affect the taste or smell of the water. The price tag for purchasing and delivering the supplemental water is nearly $15 million, which is being covered by budgeted operations costs. The district intends to pursue additional water transfers for 2022. EBMUD provides water for 1.4 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and usually pulls from the Mokelumne River. KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco (Calif.), Oct 4, 2021

Water sources reassessed for Los Angeles, water conservation urged for Southern California

1 month 4 weeks ago
Los Angeles shifted its water use and began using less from the State Water Project in favor of using more stored Colorado River from the Metropolitan Water District. The switch leaves 20,000 acre-feet available from the SWP for use by communities. Southern Californians were urged to redouble their conservation efforts and continue to use less water. Los Angeles Times (Calif.), Oct 6, 2021

Drought, heat lowers trout streams in West, endangers fish

1 month 4 weeks ago
Drought and heat have reduced trout streams in the US West to slower, warmer ribbons of water than usual. Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Colorado imposed fishing restrictions to limit stress on the fish during the hotter times of day, but Idaho and Wyoming did not. A guide and trout fisherman who usually fishes the upper North Platte River in Wyoming hasn’t done so since late June, due to low water levels that would require dragging the boat in some stretches of river. Associated Press News (New York), Sept 6, 2021

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease found in white-tailed deer, pronghorn in eastern Wyoming

1 month 4 weeks ago
Outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease have been found in white-tailed deer and pronghorn in eastern Wyoming, announced the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The disease is transmitted by midges that live around small water sources where wildlife congregate amid hot, dry weather. Wildlife managers see some level of disease annually in big game, but this year is worse, but the outbreak was just starting, according to a supervisor in the department's Wildlife Health Laboratory. Casper Star Tribune (Wyo.), Oct 4, 2021

Drought contributed to higher number of swim advisories in Iowa lakes

1 month 4 weeks ago
The hot, dry summer allowed the growth of numerous algae blooms mostly in northern Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported 24 swim advisories at state park beaches this summer due to the presence of microcystins, toxins produced by harmful algae. That count is twice the number of swim advisories as in 2020. Cedar Rapids Gazette (Iowa), Sept 7, 2021

Irrigation districts sue state over water curtailments

1 month 4 weeks ago
The state’s curtailment of Sacramento and San Joaquin river diversions drew lawsuits from eight irrigation districts in and near Stanislaus County, along with San Francisco. The three filings claim that the State Water Resources Control Board overstepped its authority with the Aug. 20 orders. The plaintiffs also said they did not have adequate opportunity to make their cases for continued diversions. The Modesto Bee (Calif.), Sept 8, 2021

More bears seen than usual in arid Minnesota

1 month 4 weeks ago
Minnesota bears are preparing for winter hibernation and are being more widely seen this year as drought limited their food supplies. In northeastern Minnesota, it’s the second consecutive dry year for bears, in addition to a hard frost in May. Minnesota Public Radio (Minneapolis), Sept 5, 2021

Fewer sage grouse in Wyoming

1 month 4 weeks ago
The number of sage grouse at leks was 13% lower this spring, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The reduced lek attendance was anticipated, due to the sage grouse's cyclical population trend and drought. Billings Gazette (Mont.), Sept 8, 2021

Bluetongue, EHD affecting many white-tailed deer in Washington, Oregon

1 month 4 weeks ago
White-tailed deer in the Northwest are dying of viruses that often occur after hot summers and drought. Rates of bluetongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, are high among deer, which contract the viruses from biting gnats. There have also been reports of diseased black-tailed deer in Central Oregon. Northwest News Network (Portland, Ore.), Sept 8, 2021
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