drought

Looking to the Gulf to fill the Gap

Apr 16, 2015
Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

As the population of Texas continues to grow, the water level is dropping fast. Recently state lawmakers discussed the feasibility of utilizing the Gulf of Mexico as a water source for the state.

An alternative that is costly and fraught with controversy, however saltwater desalination could catch on in ways that groundwater desalination never did.

Drought Across Nation's Crop Region

Apr 9, 2015
Eric Luberhausen / US Department of Agriculture

 Drought conditions continue to expand across much of the Midwest, data released by the  shows moderate or worse drought conditions cover 36.8 percent of the US which is up nearly 5% from the week prior.

TownHall.com reports that things are looking up in areas like Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky who saw rain last week and can expect more in the near future. 

The series continues with a look at the current drought conditions in the High Plains Public Radio listening region. In this installment, the question left dangling over our heads is, "Will the days of the Dust Bowl return?"

Boat launch fees and permits waived at Lake Meredith

Mar 26, 2015
Michael Schumacher / Amarillo Globe News

In a story from Amarillo Globe News reporter Kevin Welch, fees and permits for Lake Meredith are to be waived for the next three years as of April 1st 2015.

According to a news release from the National Park Service; the fees, which were established decades ago for maintenance costs, are no longer necessary due to upgrades and decreased visitation due to drought conditions.

Predictions that the drought is coming to an end in much of Kansas are getting skeptical responses from some weather officials reports the Wichita Eagle. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center indicates drought conditions will ease across the state disappearing in central Kansas and easing significantly in most of western Kansas. Janet Salazar is a hydrologist for the Wichita Branch of the National Weather Service. She says she doesn't know what’s driving the prediction. Larry Ruthi is the meteorologist in charge of the Dodge City branch of the weather service. He says he’s reluctant to declare the drought outlook is wrong. Jeff Hutton agrees if the present pattern continues the map is probably pretty close. The warning coordination meteorologist says even with near or above rainfall, the drought in southwest Kansas won’t be eliminated.

Climate patterns from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have magnified the Texas drought, but that could be changing. A word of caution, the next drought could be worse.

Kansas said Nebraska used more than its fair share of water out of the Republican River in 2005 and 2006. The Supreme Court agreed, and ordered Nebraska to pay up.

USDA

Agriculture drinks up 80 percent of the freshwater in America every year.  Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports just how much that is, for what crops, and at what cost reports the National Geographic.

The latest survey shows corn is still king, using 14 percent more irrigation than the last report. 

newsok.com/

Oklahoma ranchers received the most federal drought relief in the country according to the Oklahoman

Here are the totals from 2011-Dec. 1, 2014:

  1. Oklahoma $883 million
  2. Texas $592.36 million
  3. Nebraska $512.89 million
  4. Kansas $461.26 million
  5. Missouri $303.58 million

Courtesy of wikipedia

Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest. This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

Willard Drake Johnson / USGS Photographic Library, http://libraryphoto.cr.usgs.gov/

When explorer Stephen Long led his expedition across the western Great Plains in 1819-1820, it was during a period of widespread drought.  With only a single reference point in time, he concluded the area “is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence”.  He also marked the region on his maps as the “Great American Desert”, a label used by other map makers for decades to come.

Welcome to Winter

Nov 12, 2014
Robert Jr. / Twitter

A cold front blowing across the High Plains earlier this week brought drifts of tumbleweeds.  It also created a haboob.  That's a dust storm that typically last about three hours with sand and dirt forming a “dense whirling wall” up to 3,000 feet high according to the American Meteorological Society’s glossary.

Robert W Hart / texastribune.org

Water is being pumped from Lake Meredith to supplement water wells in Amarillo.  The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority reported recent rains have raised the water level at Lake Meredith from last year’s record low of 26 feet a current level of 43.5 feet according to a recent article from the Amarillo Globe-News.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

When the wind picked up from the south on John Schweiser’s farm outside Rocky Ford, Colo., the sky would go black. A charging wall of dust would force the 80-year-old farmer and his wife to hunker down in their ranch-style farmhouse.

What is seen to some as hocus-pocus, helps farmers and ranchers find water in Logan.

winterlivestock.com

Many Colorado cattle ranchers are beginning to recover from the drought, but for many the rain is too little and too late.

More rain could turn things around for farmers, but if the weather turns hot and dry, it could be a repeat of last year.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. cattle herd has changed dramatically over the last four years, largely thanks to drought.

The supply of beef has been in free-fall. Perhaps you’ve noticed sky-high prices for hamburger and steak.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Drought is re-shaping the beef map and raising the price of steak. Ranchers are moving herds from California to Colorado and from Texas to Nebraska seeking refuge from dry weather. And cattle producers in the Midwest are making the most of it.

Drought hammers winter wheat across the Plains

Jun 9, 2014
Ariana Brocious/Harvest Public Media

Much of the Midwest and the Plains have been battling drought for years. And the current winter wheat crop looks like it will be one of the worst in recent memory, stressing farmers in the heart of the Wheat Belt – from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

hutchpost.com

As our present multi-year drought grinds on and on, I’m beginning to wonder if we missed the point—by a country mile—in our current farm policy.

wrecklessfaith.com

The drought is hammering fields, pastures, the Ogallala Aquifer, and Galveston Bay?  StateImpact Texas reported researchers suspect drought is causing the massive fish die off.  Millions of shad have washed ashore recently.

U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR

Oklahoma experienced very wet weather recently.  That seems to have improved drought conditions, but only in the southwest according to the latest updates from The U.S. Drought Monitor noted a recent article by StateImpact Oklahoma

forgetmenotmmm.blogspot.com

Thomas County had the most rain in the state of Kansas this month, but overall, it’s not alleviating the drought according to the Garden City Telegram.

Drought still taking toll on ranchers, beef prices

May 22, 2014
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

California ranchers, despite near-record beef prices, are shrinking their cattle herds in response to one of the most severe droughts the state has ever faced, and many Western ranchers are taking advantage.

paralleluniverse38n.blogspot.com

More than half of Kansas counties were placed on the updated Drought Declaration by Gov. Sam Brownback this week.  105 counties are either in an emergency, warning or watch status according to the Hays Daily News.

wodumedia.com

Millard Fowler is a centenarian from the panhandle of Oklahoma.  He remembers the 1930s when he was a young, newly married farmer. 

southwestfarmpress.com

Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation may not be cyclic.  Dr. B.A. “Bob” Stewart recently released an analysis of data from 1895-2013 for the Texas High Plains.  He found the area is getting warmer and drier, and the recent drought is not a temporary state according to a study by Dr. Stewart for WTAMU.

Chris Coleman / StateImpact Texas

Forecasters say it looks like El Niño will reappear this fall.  That usually means more rain for Texas, but one meteorologist says it will have mixed results in the Lone Star State reported StateImpact Texas.

JOHN STANMEYER, VII / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Corn plants in the United States have become more drought sensitive, not less.  Yields have continued to increase because seed companies have developed genetic improvements allowing higher planting density.  Drought sensitivity could drive yields down in the years to come unless companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont successfully develop varieties that thrive in drought reported the National Geographic.

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