The drought color of Tennessee

anntn6b(z6b TN)June 21, 2007

I keep a rain gauge and this year, compared to the Knoxville annual totals, my rainfall barely touches ten inches and is about 13 inches behind.

I also look at the nationwide website "Drought moniter" every Thursday morning to see how bad things are.

Sadly, much of Tennessee is now shown in Extreme Drought conditions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drought moniter with Tennessee detail

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It has been rough.

Having just bought a ton of new trees/plants (which means they require the most intensive watering schedule), and I'm now forced to water like a mad man.

It just rubs me the wrong way to use LOTS of water a time when *conserving* water is most critical! It's like driving a Hummer when we're on our last drops of oil.

Making matters worse, I have watched the rain radar obsessively on the net... as my neighborhood is circled by rain showers but the showers literally part as they pass over my neck of the woods. There must be something about Knoxville... geographically... that pushes the clouds away in this climate. We have had none of those "pop up" showers!

Almost a quarter of an inch fell a couple days ago... our best rain in two months....and the dry season is supposed to be starting only now!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 8:49PM
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Kelton, it's not the geography that's causing the problem. It's the windstream pattern changes caused by other climate changes. There are differences in average rainfall due to factors such as geography and other things (even manmade heat island effects), but this is not what is causing the drought. If you look at a map of the drought/excess rainfall, you can see that we're near the northern edge of a large oval shaped drought pattern that extends south-southwest of us down into the lower states. (It's been a couple of days since I saw the map, so I can only describe it generally.)

Climates all over the nation are being changed. Some places are experiencing multiple floods while others are seeing drought.

I hope something changes. I've seen this pattern develop fairly consistently over the past few years. Unfortunately, I am not going to be surprised if we see this type of weather more and more as years go by.

My fields are so dry that patches of dirt are beginning to form. The grass and vegetation are not just dry or dead, they are completely missing. I am also starting to see more tree deaths. I looked over on the hillside near me yesterday and noticed many dead trees in the woods. If things don't change soon, I may look over to a completely brown hillside. Frequently the damage caused by stress doesnÂt show up immediately in plants. I'm concerned that even if we get rain, we may still loose even more than what can be seen presently. I wish there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but right now I can't see it.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 9:35AM
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I appreciate the posting of the link to the drought monitor. I wasn't aware of it. I'm near Chattanooga and we are in the "exceptional" catagory.

Atwork, your posting reflects the thoughts I've been having for some time from what I see around me. When I try to talk about what I'm seeing with the climate changes, I feel like people see me as Ms. Gloom'n'doom. But I just can't deny that I'm seeing some really obvious patterns of change. When I speak to people in their 70's and 80's and they say they have never seen the like of the weather this year, I can't help but get a creeped out feeling. When I talk to my family in Indiana and Western New York, the summer temperatures there are often the same as here or a couple degrees higher. I noticed it last summer, but this year it's happening more.

When the huge old hickories, oaks etc. that surround my house put out new leaves after the Easter freeze I was amazed that they were able to manage that. But plants frequently amaze me with their will to survive. Everyone I spoke with seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as if we were out of the woods. But as I look out the window now, the leaves look wrong. They droop and curl and the color is not good. I'm sure it's not obvious to anyone who does not "really look" at trees, but that's how it is.

I've seen plants come back from bad conditions many times, but like us, there is a limit to what they can take.

I was glad to read that somebody else is seeing it too. It's very scary that everyone isn't.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 3:38PM
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Hi folk. The poor color of the Oak around my country is quite scary. This all brings me back to my younger days in NE. We had years of bad drought there in the 50's. The results were the loss of many, many trees. The country side became barren, I had just gotten out of the service and was going to go back into farming but the climate just wouldn't allow it. Why I'm going into this is because I've just come back from vacation there. What a change, the country is a beautiful green with the hillsides filled with trees I never knew could exist in NE., pines all over the place with maples and ash. When I was there all we could get to grow was cottonwoods and a few elm. Yes the earth is warming but the short 75 years I've been around leads me to believe in cycles and all I'll have to do to see a new one is stick around for another 75. Of course now if I were a climate prophet I would be warning everyone about our climate demise so my importance and paychecks would be increasing. See you all.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:40AM
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The drought may very well just be part of a cycle, and I certainly hope that that is the case and that the cycle is getting ready to change back to the wetter side. Geneo, no one has said that it's not! Maybe you were trying to make some kind of statement?

Pretty much ALL climatologists recognize global warming as something happening that hasn't happened before. There is no evidence of this degree of climate change occurring over such a short time in the Earth's past except for the time that the dinosaurs died out. It's widely thought that that episode was due to a giant meteor hitting the earth.
Most climatologists and meteorologists attribute many of the current weather changes, at least indirectly, to global warming. Droughts and floods have always been around. Cyclical weather changes are nothing new. Hopefully, our current weather (at least the drought part) is just that, but there's definitely reason to consider that that may not be, or at least completely be, the case. Given what we currently know and don't know as fact, no reasonable person with an open mind would claim that the drought is here to stay or even that it is because of global warming. Similarly, no one with an open mind would completely discount that possibility.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 11:57AM
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utdeedee(7A-East Tennessee)

The drought is hitting the Knoxville area hard. I'm in West Knox. close to Oak Ridge and we've had 3 15-20 minute showers in three weeks. Last evening we got nothing. I come in to work and a co-work who lives in Clinton about 10 miles said they got rain for about 1-1.5 hrs.....
I do believe in cycles also, but I also realize that the environment has definitely changed in my 48 years. It's nothing like it was when I was a kid.
Hoping for some rain this week, long slow steady rain. :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:31PM
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I can easily agree with everything your saying (atwork); I just want to emphasis that I'm about fed up with the doom doer activists on global warming. I'm a cycle person when it comes to droughts and earth warming:

"ÂClimate change is real is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince
the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of
these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes
and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural Ânoise.Â"
It has been warmer than now just depending on who you want to believe. Of course, where was the thermometer.
And as for the carbons causing our warming; tell the Martians to dispense with their carbon emissions since mars is warming faster than the earth. H'm, why are our cities warmer than the country sides? Seems like they say its because of all the pavements, guess it could also be all those reflective rooftops, reflective buildings and what about all those sitting shiny auto's in the parking lots. Could they be reflecting earth warm up? Hey, this is fun, think I'll become an activist and join Gore since neither of us knows what we are talking about.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:49AM
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PS-And there is no reason why we shouldn't clean up our carbon emissions if its effecting our health. Which I do believe it is. But lets do it in a responcible manner, just like cleaning up our do nothing politicians.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 12:11PM
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utdeedee(7A-East Tennessee)

I agree Plants4Chris, I too have talked with family members 75, 80, 82 years old, and they definitely say the weather has changed in their life time. Cycle? Pollution? Who's to say, but lets hope we get some rain soon.... I'm weary of watering, my oak tree and other trees are weepy, my garden would have died a month ago had I not watered. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 4:22PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Geneo, I think all those people that say "climate change is real" are just trying to counter the people that refuse to acknowledge the scientific data that is out there. There are many people that just ignore or refuse to recognize the facts that do exist/are known. When they use a phrase like "climate change is real" they may not be stating it as clearly as they should, but you know what they are trying to say.

When you say, "Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ÂnoiseÂ" that also seems to be easily misinterpreted. There is data that fairly clearly illustrates that human activity is having an effect on climate. The degree of the effect is hotly debated, but that doesn't mean the effects cannot be seen. If human activity is having as great of an effect as many climatologists think possible and we wait until the exact amount of human influence is known, we may cook in our own juices before anything is done to address the problem.

You are right to want change to occur in a responsible way. We need to act reasonably and not on emotion. But, just as there are people using gloom and doom to push their beliefs, there are also those that choose to ignore the whole thing and act as if there were no reason to even examine what's happening. I am surprised at the number of people that just want to bury their heads in the ground. Maybe it's a counter reaction to other's excitement, but both sides need to stay aware of the facts and stop acting on emotion.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:36PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

The fossil leaves on the northwest arm of Iceland would be recongizable to folks on this forum as species that we see in the cove hardwood forests in the Smokies. But now, Iceland can support only a few more northern trees in the cities.

But back to the drought moniter. Tennessee is much, much drier this week. Most of the state is in extreme drought.

How are the shrubs looking in the burbs where the shrubs are mostly evergreens?
It was almost funny driving through ne TN last week and seeing a small nursery offering a talk on xeriscaping.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 9:25AM
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Ann, you may be referring to the fossils from the Miocene Epoch. That's the time period from which most Icelandic fossils, which differ from current types of Icelandic flora, are found. Types of ferns, Cupressaceae (specifically Cryptomeria), Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Aceraceae (specifically Acer), Magnoliaceae (specifically Magnolia), Lauraceae (specifically Sassafras), and Myricaceae (specifically Comptonia) have been found. Climate change that occurred over tens of millions of years wiped out most if not all of the particular species found in the fossil record. Similar but more recently evolved species of those families are currently found in North America and Europe. Reviewing the drastic changes that have occurred in plant and animal life over tens of millions of years of very gradual climate change makes one really wonder about the results of a more rapid climate change, doesn't it?

So far as the drought here goes, I noticed yesterday that even though my creek/stream is still there (surprisingly it's not down that much), the weeds on the creekbank are wilting. Even the creekbank is showing signs of drought.

I haven't seen any evergreen tree deaths at my place yet, but the drought may have a cumulative effect that shows up later.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 3:08PM
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