In this file:


·         "Flash Drought" Worsening Across Southern US

·         Farmers across Virginia deal with drought, heat



"Flash Drought" Worsening Across Southern US


By RFD-TV News

Oct 03, 2019


ATLANTA (AP) — More than 45 million people across 14 Southern states are now in the midst of what’s being called a “flash drought” that’s cracking farm soil, drying up ponds and raising the risk of wildfires, scientists said Thursday.


The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows extreme drought conditions in parts of Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and the Florida panhandle. Lesser drought conditions also have expanded in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.


Overall, nearly 20 percent of the lower 48 U.S. states is experiencing drought conditions.


The drought accelerated rapidly in September, as record heat combined with little rainfall to worsen the parched conditions, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska.


“Typically we look at drought as being a slow onset, slow-developing type phenomenon compared to other disasters that rapidly happen, so this flash drought term came about,” Fuchs said. “The idea is that it’s more of a rapidly developing drought situation compared to what we typically see.”


Fuchs said he expects scientists to have further discussions about flash droughts, and perhaps develop parameters for what constitutes a flash drought.


The drought has been putting stress on a wide variety of crops across the South, including cotton in Alabama, peanuts in Georgia and tobacco in Virginia, according to reports from the National Drought Mitigation Center.


Pumpkins are faring better in Alabama, though they’re somewhat smaller this year due to the drought.


“We would have liked to have had a few more pumpkins this year, but we do have pumpkins and we are selling pumpkins _ that’s the good news,” said Doug Chapman, a commercial horticulture expert with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.


In Mississippi, wildfires have been on the rise, Gov. Phil Bryant said this week, as he ordered a statewide burn ban. Outdoor burning is also restricted in parts of several other states including Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the drought center.


The drought was also affecting some water supplies across the region. Lake levels have been falling throughout Georgia, including at Lake Lanier, which provides much of Atlanta’s drinking water.


In North Carolina, rivers and streams are running low...


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Farmers across Virginia deal with drought, heat


By Bruce Young & Karina Bolster, WHSV-TV3 (VA)

Oct 03, 2019


ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ/WWBT) — “Herk” Williams' family has been on the farm since the 1790s, seven generations, and he takes a philosophical approach to the weather.


“Anytime you’re dealing with weather, there’s always elements that create havoc for animals and humans alike," he said. "So you’ve got to learn to cope with what Mother Nature lays on you.”


But that doesn’t make it any easier.


“When times are good," he said, "You try to make extra feed, and you try to compensate because you know somewhere along the line, there’s going to be bad times.”


“Boy, you’re hearing a lot of disgruntled people right now," said Mack Smith, President of the local Farm Bureau. "With these cattle prices going down, feeding and buying feed, hay prices are probably going to double. They’re just going up.”


Smith was in his cornfield Wednesday, cutting a month early.


“The soybeans in the last two weeks literally died," he said of another crop." And again, you normally wouldn’t see that until frost hit it, and they just died.”


The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows large swaths of southern West Virginia in a severe drought and much of Virginia in a moderate drought. The National Weather Service marked last month as one of warmest and driest Septembers on record in multiple Virginia and West Virginia cities.


In many places, it’s so dry farmers like Williams have to think of more than yield.


“We have a truck, a water tanker truck here in the field with us," he explained. "In case something catches fire, we can put it out.”


But with the right management, and some diversity, they say they’ll make it through as their forefathers did before them.


“It’s just a balancing act," Williams said. "And you’ve got to, you know, sometimes you’ve got to just sit down and really grind out the marbles in the brain and make it all work out.”


Jeff Sears, owner of Hanover Vegetable Farm, said his crops aren’t necessarily the size they typically see on an annual basis.


However, he said he’d rather deal with the drier weather than the tremendous amount of rain the area had this time last year.


"I don't want to complain much,” Sears said. “It could always be better, but after last year I'd much rather take this."


That's mainly because Sears lost all of his pumpkins due to the rainy weather in 2018. He doesn't have that problem this year.


The weather has also taken a toll on another fall crop – corn.


“It normally would get 8-foot tall because you want it to grow for the maze,” Sears said.


This year’s corn stalks are roughly 3 feet shorter than what they’re supposed to be. They’re still tall enough to work for a maze, but Sears has a different problem. There isn’t any corn on them.


“We’ll pull all the corn and feed it to the cattle and stuff this winter, but as you can see, it’s not much for them this winter,” Sears said...