By Linda Cicoira
A drought watch advisory was issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality late Tuesday for 28 counties and 11 cities in the state and includes Accomack and Northampton counties.
An advisory is intended to increase awareness of conditions and facilitate preparation for a drought when indicators in the state Drought Assessment and Response Plan have been met. DEQ monitors and evaluates hydrologic and water supply conditions and evaluates drought conditions in accordance with the plan.
The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force is responsible for making recommendations for drought stage declarations. The task force considered several facts and predictions to establish the watch.
Many of the affected areas received less than half of normal precipitation within the last 60 days, with some areas receiving less than a quarter of normal precipitation in the past two weeks. Precipitation is predicted to remain below normal, with above normal temperatures in the next two weeks.
Stream flows in these areas are below normal, and some monitoring locations are below the 10th percentile of historical normal values.
Very dry soil moisture conditions have been measured across the majority of the northern and eastern portions of the state and have ranked in the lowest five percent of historic values across portions of these regions.
The DEQ is working with local governments, public water works, and water users in the affected areas, and is requesting that they prepare for a drought by developing or reviewing existing water conservation and drought response plans. Virginians are asked to help protect current water supplies by minimizing water use, monitoring drought conditions, and detecting and repairing leaks.
If conditions persist and a drought is imminent, a drought warning will be issued. Water conservation and contingency plans, that are already in place or those that have been prepared during a drought watch stage, would then be implemented.