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Posts tagged ‘Drought’

US West Faces ‘Worst Drought in 500 Years’.

California’s three-year drought could end up being the area’s worst in 500 years, forcing even tougher restrictions on residents who have been cutting back on showers and farming already.

On Friday, the State Water Project, which is the main distribution system of municipal water in California, announced it would not be allocating any water from its reservoirs to local agencies this spring. It is the first time it has taken such action in its 54-year history.

Drinking water for 25 million people and irrigation for 1 million acres of farmland will be affected, Fox News reports. 

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times.

Gov. Jerry Brown already had called on Californians to cut back on water use by 20 percent.

The State Water Project typically makes an announcement of water allocation on February 1, enabling farmers to plan what and how much they will plant based on how much water they will be able to use for irrigation. With the announcement that no allocation will be made, some farmers have opted to plant nothing, The New York Times reports. 

Others are planning to drill more wells to tap aquifers, which aren’t regulated by the state. But previous years’ use of those aquifers already have lowered their levels, and the ongoing drought has not given them time to return to normal range.

With fears that California could be in a 500-year drought, officials want water supplies to be preserved in case they are needed over the next several years.

“These actions will protect us all in the long run,” State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said in a news conference.

The crisis is pitting farmers, city dwellers and environmentalists against each other, but officials are appealing to residents to put aside long-held divisions.

A snow survey Thursday in the Sierra Nevada showed a snowpack of only 12 percent of normal, Fox reported. Reservoirs are lower than in 1977, one of the state’s previous worst drought years.

With forecasts still calling for no rain, 17 rural communities that provide water to 40,000 people could run out of within 60 to 120 days, The New York Times reports.

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing,” the governor said.

“I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,” Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, told The New York Times. “We are talking historical drought conditions, no supplies of water in many parts of the state. My industry’s job is to try to make sure that these kind of things never happen. And they are happening.”

Besides drinking supplies and farm irrigation, the lack of water is threatening the endangered salmon and other fish species. And air pollution in Los Angeles, which had been declining over the past 10 years, is on the rise without rain to clean the air. Bans have been put on fireplace wood burning to combat the problem.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Serving God in a Dry Season.

Dry ground
(© Jasenka | Stock Free Images )

While Hurricane Sandy’s floods dominated recent weather headlines, a very different weather pattern has cost us more than the superstorm’s $50 billion in damages. The United States actually needs rain—and lots of it.

Forecasters say our nation is experiencing its worst drought since 1954. As of this week, 60.1 percent of the nation is in drought, with six states—Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and Iowa—entirely in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Lakes are drying up, crops are dying and ranchers are scrambling to feed their cows.

Some people figure this prolonged dry spell is just the result of cyclical climate patterns. Maybe so, but the Bible suggests that droughts and famines can be linked to spiritual realities. Sometimes the natural world reflects our spiritual condition. Man’s pride, greed, injustice and idolatry can actually disturb nature.

When you consider how hostile our culture has become to God and biblical morality, it’s no surprise we are in a recession—both economically and ecologically. (Note to all my green friends: Sin is actually very bad for the environment.)

The good news is that even in seasons of drought, whether physical or spiritual, God has a knack for getting His people through challenging times. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all experienced famine—yet they inherited a divine promise. Moses led God’s people through a dry wilderness. David wrote psalms about the dry seasons. And it was during a prolonged drought that Elijah called down fire from heaven.

I’m not superstitious, so I have no fear of the number 13. While I do believe 2013 will be a challenging year financially, I see some silver linings behind today’s storm clouds. As we enter this difficult time, remember what the Bible says about drought:

1. It is a time to repent. Back in the old days people repented when the rain stopped. They feared God. They knew they couldn’t rely on their sophisticated technology, scientific achievements or social engineering. The prophet Joel led the way when he wrote: “To you, O Lord, I cry; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field” (Joel 1:19, NASB). When times are tough, make sure you are not offending God in any way. Turn from all known sin. Adjust your attitudes, starve your lusts and refocus on the Lord.

2. It is a time to seek the Lord fervently. Many of America’s trees are in danger because of the current drought. The only tree that can survive drought is one that has roots deep enough to soak up water that lies far below the ground. Your ability to survive tough times depends on how deep you are willing to go with God. Shallow devotion isn’t enough.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about the righteous man: “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:8). Instead of fretting about the future, extend your roots farther than you ever have before. Seek the Lord and tap into the strength of His presence.

3. It is a time to worship the Lord passionately. Worship has a proven therapeutic effect on our souls, but it also has the power to change our circumstances. When times are tough, the tough start praising! If your situation looks bleak, don’t fall into the trap of depression. You can worship your way out of this.

The prophet Habakkuk described a dark time in Israel when the fig tree did not blossom and there was no fruit on the vines. Still, he chose to praise. He said: “Yet I will exult in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18). As you enter 2013, use the weapon of praise to conquer your anxieties, fears and doubts.

4. It is a time to expect supernatural supply. King David said the righteous would enjoy abundance “in the days of famine” (see Psalm 37:19). That doesn’t make sense! How can we experience provision during a recession? It is possible because God’s economy is not linked to this world’s corrupt system. Just as the widow’s oil flowed even when her bank account was dry, you too can know supernatural blessing even when the nation is dangling over a fiscal cliff.

Regardless of what the history books say about 2013, it can be a time for God’s people to shine. Raise your faith level and expect a miracle.


J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible.

US drought worsens after weeks of improvement.

  • A tree trunk rests on the bed of a dried lake, the outcome of severe drought, in Waterloo, Neb., Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. A new report shows that the nation's worst drought in decades is getting worse again, ending an encouraging five-week run of improving conditions. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that 60.1 percent of the continental U.S. was in some form of drought as of Tuesday. That's up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The portion of the lower 48 states in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — also rose, to 19.04 percent from last week's 18.3 percent. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press/Nati Harnik – A tree trunk rests on the bed of a dried lake, the outcome of severe drought, in Waterloo, Neb., Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. A new report shows that the nation’s worst drought in …more 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said Wednesday, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.

While more than half of the continental U.S. has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with Wednesday’s weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it.

The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent.

The Drought Monitor’s map tells the story, with dark red blotches covering the center of the nation and portions of Texas and the Southeast as an indication of where conditions are the most intense. Those areas are surrounded by others in lesser stages of drought, with only the Northwest, Florida and a narrow band from New England south to Mississippi escaping.

A federal meteorologist cautioned that Wednesday’s numbers shouldn’t be alarming, saying that while drought usually subsides heading into winter, the Drought Monitor report merely reflects a week without rain in a large chunk of the country.

“The places that are getting precipitation, like the Pacific Northwest, are not in drought, while areas that need the rainfall to end the drought aren’t getting it,” added Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. “I would expect the drought area to expand again” by next week since little rain is forecast in the Midwest in coming days.

He said there was no clear, scientific explanation for why the drought was lingering or estimate for how long it would last.

“What’s driving the weather? It’s kind of a car with no one at the steering wheel,” Heim said. “None of the atmospheric indicators are really strong. A lot of them are tickling around the edges and fighting about who wants to be king of the hill, but none of them are dominant.”

The biggest area of exceptional drought, the most severe of the five categories listed by the Drought Monitor, centers over the Great Plains. Virtually all of Nebraska is in a deep drought, with more than three-fourths in the worst stage. But Nebraska, along with the Dakotas to the north, could still see things get worse “in the near future,” the USDA‘s Eric Luebehusen wrote in Wednesday’s update.

The drought also has been intensifying in Kansas, the top U.S. producer of winter wheat. It also is entirely covered by drought, and the area in the worst stage rose nearly 4 percentage points to 34.5 percent as of Tuesday. Much of that increase was in southern Kansas, where rainfall has been 25 percent of normal over the past half year.

After a summer in which farmers watched helpless as their corn dried up in the heat and their soybeans became stunted, many are now worrying about their winter wheat.

It has come up at a rate on par with non-drought years, but the quality of the drop doesn’t look good, according to the USDA. Nearly one-quarter of the winter wheat that germinated is in poor or very poor condition, an increase of 2 percentage points from the previous week and 9 percentage points worse than the same time in 2011. Forty-two percent of the plantings are described as in fair shape, the same as last week.

Farmers who might normally irrigate in such circumstances worry about low water levels in the rivers and reservoirs they use, and many are hoping for snow to ease the situation. But it would take a lot. About 20 inches of snow equals just an inch of actual water, and many areas have rain deficits of a foot or more.


By JIM SUHR | Associated Press

Drought’s impact on food prices could worsen hunger in America.


(Gallup Map)

More than 18 percent of Americans say there have been times this year when they couldn’t afford the food they needed, according to aGallup poll released on Tuesday.

That plight could grow because of the country’s worst drought in half a century. The U.S. Department of Agriculture warned last monththat Americans should expect to pay 3 to 5 percent more for groceries next year because of the drought.

“While Americans are no more likely to struggle to afford food thus far in 2012 than in the past, more residents may face problems as the drought-related crop damage results in a shortage of inputs in the food supply and begins to affect retail prices,” the Gallup report stated.

The Gallup findings come from telephone surveys conducted with 177,662 U.S. adults from January through June 2012. They asked 1,000 Americans each day if there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.

The worst responses came from Mississippi, where one in four residents reported struggling to put food on the table.

From the Gallup study:

Residents of states in the Southeast and Southwest regions are the most likely in the country to struggle to afford food. Those living in the Mountain Plains and Midwest regions are the least likely to experience food hardship.

Gallup said the 18.2 percent of Americans who so far in 2012 reported having problems is on par with the 18.6 percent who had trouble affording food in 2011. says one in six people in the U.S. goes without food for several meals or even days.

Financial lenders worldwide are also alerting countries to prepare for a possible spike in food bills in the coming months, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“We are not saying that we anticipate a major crisis at this point,” said Juergen Voegele, director of the World Bank‘s Agriculture and Rural Development Department. “The world has enough food, but of course we cannot predict the weather and if something extraordinary happens we might find.


By Jason Sickles, Yahoo! | The Lookout

Midwest drought reveals Indiana ‘ghost towns’.

The severe drought scorching much of the nation’s Midwest has lowered water levels so drastically that towns that were intentionally submerged decades ago are starting to surface.

The historic drought has dried the Salamonie River in northeast Indiana so much that its receding banks are now revealing the remnants, bricks and foundations of Monument City, Ind., NBC News reports.

The small town of 100 was one of three whose residents were relocated before the Salamonie River was dammed and the municipality submerged in order to build a reservoir in 1965.

[Photos: Drought strikes many states]

“Our school didn’t have a gymnasium,” Dick Roth, 81, who attended the defunct high school in Monument City said in the piece. “Our gymnasium was outside, which is a cement slab.”

Slabs of foundations and red bricks that once walled the homes and buildings of the riverside community are becoming visible and bringing up memories for those who once lived there, like Roth.

Officials of a nearby visitor’s center that has a display honoring the once-sunken towns are giving guided tours of the areas, hoping former residents will come and tell more stories and share their oral history, NBC noted.

[Related: Drought diaries, stories from the historic drought]

The drop of water levels in lakes and rivers is a startling example of the toll of the historic drought, which is also hampering the economy in the Midwest.

A recent report says the drought is leveling off in the Midwest. However, it’s not much consolation with about 62 percent of the continental U.S. mired in drought conditions. About 24 percent of the U.S. is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought—the two worst classifications.


By Ron Recinto | The Lookout

Report: Drought intensifies in Kansas, Nebraska.


  • Curtis Wold, of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, examines one of the dry pools at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, in Great Bend, Kansas August 7, 2012. Rain and cooler temperatures in the drought-stricken U.S. Midwest crop belt will provide relief for late-season soybeans, but the change in the weather is arriving too late to help the already severely damaged corn crop, an agricultural meteorologist said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jeff Tuttle  (UNITED STATES - Tags: AGRICULTURE ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)Curtis Wold, of the Kansas Wetlands …

ST. LOUIS (AP)Rains that eased or stabilized parched conditions in some key farming states haven’t helped growers and ranchers in Kansas or Nebraska, where the severity of the drought continues to spike, a climate monitoring center showed Thursday.

Storms that rolled through swaths of the nation’s midsection last week offered some respite to farmers punished for months by the widest U.S. drought in decades. Nonetheless, rainfall so late in the growing season might not meaningfully improve yield expectations that the federal government has downgraded for two straight months.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed that the amount of the contiguous U.S. mired in drought dropped less than 1 percentage point to 61.8 percent as of Tuesday. The portion enduring extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — also eased, to 23.68 percent from 24.14 percent.

In Iowa, the nation’s leader in corn production, the amount of land classified in those two most-serious categories dropped 7 percentage points to 62.05 percent over the past week, thanks to the recent storms.

“Other areas, such as the Southern and Central Plains, were not as lucky and continued to dry out,” the National Climatic Data Center‘s Michael Brewer wrote in the update, released weekly by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

The amount of land in Nebraska suffering exceptional drought spiked by 19 percentage points to 22.5 percent, while the number in Kansas jumped from 38.6 percent last week to 63.3 percent now. Illinois, another key supplier of corn and soybeans, saw its conditions abate slightly, with the amount of land in the two worst drought categories slipping from 81.18 percent to 79.54 percent.

The U.S. Agriculture Department has twice slashed its forecast for this year’s corn and soybean output because of the punishing drought in the nation’s breadbasket. It forecast the nation’s biggest harvest ever in the spring, when farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn — the most since 1937. But the agency has cut its estimate twice since then and now expects the nation to produce 10.8 billion bushels, the least since 2006.

If that estimate holds, the federal government says it will be enough to meet the world’s needs and ensure there are no shortages. But experts say food prices will almost certainly climb as corn is a widely used ingredient in products ranging from cosmetics to cereal, colas and candy bars.

The USDA‘s latest estimate predicts corn farmers will average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year in what would be the lowest average yield in 17 years. But the yield would still be as good as nearly a decade ago, when the average was about 129 bushels in a year without drought.

The drought stretching across the U.S. from Ohio west to California is deepest in the middle of the country.


Associated PressBy By JIM SUHR | Associated Press 

The right kind of rain could cure U.S. drought.


  • A general view of drought-damaged corn stalks at the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, August 13, 2012. REUTERS/Larry DowningA general view of drought-damaged … 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. weather experts know exactly what would officially end this year’s killing drought: nine to 15 inches of rain falling in one month over the hardest-hit parts of the country.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. It will take the right kind of rain – slow and steady over a period of weeks – to cure the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century. The wrong kind could only make matters worse, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The nine-to-15-inch estimateis derived from the Palmer Drought Index, which considers temperature and precipitation to project what it would take to end a dangerous dry period. The index does not consider how quickly the rain falls.

Richard Heim, a climatologist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, reckons that half an inch of rain, every other day for a month, would soak into the parched soil and go a long way toward ending the extreme dry conditions that have blighted the corn and soybean crops, slowed traffic on the Mississippi and threatened to send food and fuel prices soaring.

But if the requisite amount of rain fell in a single day, Heim said by email, it could cause flash floods that would run off sun-baked ground without seeping in, doing little to end the drought.

Much of the U.S. corn and soybean crop is already lost due to the drought, and even if it started raining now, that would not restore the crops to normal levels.

Without numerous days of steady rain, this could be a repeat of the drought year of 1988, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That year, drought devastated corn, soybeans and winter wheat, causing problems that carried over into the next growing season, he said.

Sterling Smith, a commodity strategist for Citigroup, suggested that might happen to this year’s soybean crop, which he said “might take two growing cycles to straighten out.” Soybean prices could be high well into spring 2013, Smith said on August 10, as the U.S. Agriculture Department forecast soybean inventory could shrink to a scant two-week supply before next year’s crop is ready for harvest.

It’s not just a U.S. issue. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned on August 9 that the world could face a food crisis like the one seen in 2007-08 if countries restrict exports as they worry about rising grain prices fueled by drought. Global food prices surged in July, FAO reported.


Leading members of the Group of 20 nations said Monday they are prepared to call an emergency meeting to address high grain prices caused by the U.S. drought and poor crops around the Black Sea.

Autumn rains, which tend to be steadier than summer downpours, could help in the United States. So could El Nino, a weather pattern spawned by warm surface waters in the equatorial Pacific that tends to send significant precipitation across the southern tier of U.S. states.

The odds of El Nino developing this year are greater than 75 percent, Rippey told Reuters. If this pattern develops, southern states from California through the Gulf Coast and parts of the Southeast would get a good soaking. But El Nino also could well send dry, warm weather from the Northwest through the drought-hit northern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley.

Beyond agricultural drought, some parts of the United States are experiencing hydrologic drought, with rivers, lakes and the underground sources of water known as aquifers at low levels because of increasing demand as populations expand into dryer areas.

These subterranean lakes were filled (recharged is the hydrologic term) thousands of years ago when what is now North America was a much wetter and more humid place, said Van Kelley, a hydrogeologist at INTERA, a Texas-based geoscience and engineering consulting firm.

“Most of the country is using groundwater that’s been recharged thousands and thousands of years ago,” Kelley said in a telephone interview. “And so in most aquifers, we’re pumping what some people call fossil water.”

Florida’s groundwater system can be swiftly recharged with heavy rains, Kelley said. But many U.S. aquifers – including the giant Oglala aquifer that lies under a swath of the American midsection from South Dakota to Texas – have been depleted.

Aquifers like the Oglala took thousands of years to fill and even heavy rains won’t refill them after years of pumping water out, Kelley said. But aquifers can be replenished by diverting river water into them when supplies on the surface are plentiful.

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent; additional reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Dan Grebler)


ReutersBy Deborah Zabarenko | Reuters

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