Drought strikes much of the Shenandoah Valley
Seven counties in the valley have been placed under a drought warning advisory. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi checked in with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and filed this report.
The DEQ issued a drought warning for the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah, Warren, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta last week. In the past two weeks, some of these areas have received no rain at all. At best, they've gotten a half of an inch.
WEEDON CLOE: We have a network of stream gauges throughout the state, as well as a network of monitoring wells throughout the state, and the decision to trigger a watch or a warning or an emergency are based on four factors, and two of those factors are indeed groundwater and streamflow.
Weedon Cloe is the manager of the Office of Water Supply for the department.
CLOE: The streamflow and the groundwater in the valley are very, very low right now, and they're below the 10th percentile and below the fifth percentile in some areas as well.
Switzer Lake, one of Harrisonburg's two main water sources, has also been hit hard.
CLOE: They have about a 118-day supply before things get really, really bad, and they're at about 17% of inflows coming into the reservoir right now. … Usually, by October, November, you know, we start getting rain, and hopefully we'll get a good snowfall this year to recharge some of this groundwater.
He said it will take more than the thunderstorms in this weekend's forecast to break the drought.
CLOE: We've gotten reports from our folks out that way that the crops have been really bad this year. Hay's been horrible. Corn hasn't been great either.
Residents are encouraged to limit water consumption for the time being, such as by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, and not watering your lawn or washing your car.