Podcast Transcript: Drought Preparedness

Drought preparedness podcast for the Get Ready blog.

Drought Preparedness: Understanding Droughts and Conserving Water

Ready Georgia: According to the National Weather Service, more than half of Georgia is in a drought, with nearly 20 percent of the state in the most severe category- exceptional drought. Hurricane Isaac brought significant rainfall to areas of Georgia and other Southeastern late last month. But was it enough to make a long-term difference? Joining us today is Nyasha Dunkley, the Deputy State Climatologist for Georgia. We'll get an update on the state of the drought across Georgia and discuss some ways to stay prepared. Thanks for joining us, Nyasha.

Nyasha: Oh glad to be here Chris, good to be here.

Ready Georgia: Great! Let's start with a definition. As I mentioned earlier, portions of the state have been in an exceptional drought. What exactly does that mean?

Nyasha: So the U.S. drought monitor gives a general summary of current drought conditions across the U.S. and has a map that shows a summary of where your general drought areas are in Georgia and in the United States totally. It labels droughts by intensity. So you start with D0, which are abnormally dry areas that are recovering from drought or not yet back to normal. Then you have D1 which are moderate droughts, being the least intense, and you're going all the way up to D4 or exceptional, being the most. So when you're talking about D4 as you referred to with the exceptional drought, you're really looking at the highest level of drought severity where you start to see widespread crop and pasture losses, you can see shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, wells. So as of this morning the drought monitor still shows the core of the extreme to exceptional drought conditions across central and north central Georgia.

Ready Georgia: Did the rains from Hurricane Isaac help make up the difference?

Nyasha: We wish that it had. Unfortunately though, it didn't help as much as we would have liked it to, because the track of Isaac was more westward. So the state missed out on the majority of the rainfall that was associated with that system.

Ready Georgia: What kind of impact is expected from this year's drought?

Nyasha: Well it depends on the area of the state where you're located. Different areas are experiencing different levels of drought. If you're in an area that is under severe drought conditions, you can expect they'll be some crop and pasture losses. It wouldn't be uncommon to see some water shortages occur in those areas. If you're in an area where it's extreme, you'll have major crop and pasture losses and more widespread water shortages. We've already discussed exceptional drought areas where you'll see shortages in reservoirs and streams.

Ready Georgia: Well what can people do in their homes to help save water?

Nyasha: Very simple things, like checking your faucets and your pipes and your toilets for leaks. A lot of people don't look at that as very important, but a small drip from one's faucet can waste at least 20 gallons of water a day. So you can look at the leaks, you can look at installing some low-flow shower heads, or even limiting the time in your shower. Just basic things like turning off the water while you're brushing your teeth. If you're using the dishwasher or washing your clothes in the clothes washer make sure you do it on full loads; also follow your outdoor water restrictions for your area.

Ready Georgia: We at Ready Georgia stress the the importance of preparedness; what can homeowners and other residents do now to get ready for possible future droughts?

Nyasha: Well the interesting thing is, is that a lot of people don't think of droughts as disasters or emergencies. We think of droughts more in the long-term. But there is still a degree of preparedness that you have to have for any emergency. You always want to be informed, first and foremost about what's going on around you and future conditions and once you're informed you can have a plan of how you'll handle conditions if they get worse. That plan should also include preparedness kits. Those are very important, even with droughts as well. You always want to make sure that you have enough water and you always want to have a good supply of non-perishable food. You always want to have a battery-powered radio, a NOAA weather radio, with extra batteries for both. Flashlights, first-aid kits, these are things that you always want to have on hand in your readiness kit. Of course you can always look to see what your community is doing in their conservation efforts, in their preparedness efforts.

Ready Georgia: What's the best way to stay informed about droughts?

Nyasha: Well one of the most important things you can do, obviously, is to follow the water restrictions for your area, and then you really want to stay informed, you can go to our website GAEPD.org. if you look under the state climatologist link on the left, it will take you to a page that has a lot of great resource links that talk about the drought, that tell you current conditions with the drought. You can also find our monthly climate summary there. Another special place you can look is the drought monitor, it gives good up-to-date information on the drought and as always it's important to make sure you're monitoring your local radio stations, your local television stations or NOAA weather radio for your latest information.

Ready Georgia: Well Nyasha, thank you for taking the time to inform us about drought and its effects on our state and to our listeners, thanks for tuning in, and be sure to join us for our next edition.

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