Water Resources of the United States
Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:46:46 EST
Summary: Nebraska has seen no significant change in drought intensity over the past month.
The location of the most severe parts of this drought continue to shift north, from Texas in early 2011, up through Oklahoma later that year, and on up through Kansas in the summer of 2012. The state with the worst drought conditions now is Nebraska (according to the U.S. Drought Monitor), with Kansas and the other surrounding states still severely impacted.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has classified 77% of Nebraska in the Exceptional drought category, while 96% of the state remained in at least the Extreme drought category. Despite intermittent winter precipitation, conditions have remained unchanged over the past 3 months, with 0.5 to 2.0 inches of snow moisture across the state during that period.
The National Drought Mitigation Center says 2012 was the both the driest and warmest year out of 118 years of record. On January 1, 2013, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources officials declared a Compact Call Year for the Republican River Basin. USGS records for Harlan County Reservoir, the largest reservoir on the Republican River in Nebraska, show that the reservoir has not recovered at all since the 2012 irrigation season and is currently only about 3 feet above the sediment pool. http://bit.ly/UYMLOA
Records or Milestones:
None in the last month, but streamflows are currently affected by ice and accurate streamflow data is unavailable. The USGS Groundwater Watch shows that over 1,250 groundwater wells are at or less than the 24th percentile (Below Normal or Much Below Normal). 61 percent of ranked wells in the Nebraska Continuous Groundwater-Level Network are less than the 24th percentile (Below Normal or Much Below Normal) and over half of those are less than the 10th percentile.
Additional Efforts Required Resulting from the Drought:
No additional low-flow discharge measurements or low-end rating extensions were required in the past month. USGS crews have been repairing frozen pressure lines throughout the winter at several streamgages due to the low river conditions.
Nebraska has several thousand annual and hundreds of semi-annual wells in the groundwater level network, but this means that groundwater data related to the drought may be nearly a year old. Nebraska WSC created the Nebraska Continuous Groundwater Level Network which expands on the Groundwater Watch Real-Time Groundwater-Level Network. The new network includes continuous recorders which lack real-time capability, but reduce the effective time to last observation to a few months at most.
Communications and Outreach:
Nebraska WSC staff have answered numerous media requests for drought information to date (none in the past month).
A WWW page is available http://ne.water.usgs.gov/drought/
No news release is planned.
Storm Surge: no
Submitted by: Rachael Hoagland
Sub-Region: Midwest; Region: Central United States