Drought Forces Changes in Recreation

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Drought that has affected Nebraska's bodies of water for more than five years is forcing many recreational interests to make some adjustments.

At Harlan County Lake near Republican City, marinas and the Army Corp of Engineers are trying to make do.

Corp official Jim Brown says boating is going to be impacted. He explains that at normal pool level Harlan County usually has six boat ramps, right now, they only have one.

The corp now is dredging to have another ramp in place at Patterson Harbor by Memorial Day. That will help get the boats out in water that is already 20 feet lower than normal.

Patterson Harbor co-owner Leonard Wasserman says the lake is low but not hazardous. He says rain would be great but there still is seven-thousand-acres of water in which to fish and boat.

He says the lake marinas are telling people not to be discouraged but to tell people to come and enjoy boating, fish and jet skiing.

Brown says there is also more shoreline for All Terrain Vehicles.

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Drought Facts

  • A drought is a period of abnormally dry weather, which persists long enough to produce a serious hydrologic imbalance (for example crop damage, water supply shortage, etc.)

  • The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration and the size of the affected area.

  • There are four different ways that drought can be defined:
    • Meteorological - a measure of departure of precipitation from normal. Due to climatic differences what is considered a drought in one location may not be a drought in another location.
    • Agricultural - refers to a situation when the amount of moisture in the soil no longer meets the needs of a particular crop
    • Hydrological - occurs when surface and subsurface water supplies are below normal.
    • Socioeconomic - refers to the situation that occurs when physical water shortage begins to affect people.

  • The Dust Bowl days of the 1930's affected 50 million acres of land, rendering the farmers helpless.

  • In the 1950's, the Great Plains suffered a severe water shortage when several years went by with rainfall well below normal.

  • The worst drought in 50 years affected at least 35 states during the long hot summer of 1988.

  • In 1988, rainfall totals over the mid-west, Northern Plains and the Rockies were 50 percent to 85 percent below normal.

  • During the great drought of 1988, Governor Guy Hunt of Alabama led a statewide prayer for rain. It came the very next day, and the thunderstorms continued for weeks.

Source: www.nws.noaa.gov (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) contributed to this report


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