The Heat Is Online

Late January Warmth Fuels New York Water Crisis

New York City faces drought warning

Reuters News Service, Jan. 28, 2002

NEW YORK - With New York City's water supply at its most worrisome levels in more than 30 years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday appealed to citizens and businesses to use less water.

The current drought watch will likely turn into a drought warning in the next day or two, said Bloomberg, noting that the reservoir systems were 40 percent full, about half the desired level.

Bloomberg said restrictions would not yet become mandatory but made recommendations aimed at cutting back the 1.2 billion gallons of water used daily in New York.

"Over the last 20 years, this city has reduced dramatically the amount of water it uses," Bloomberg told a news conference. "Unfortunately it's just not enough. We have to make water consumption in New York City even less."

Bloomberg outlined familiar measures to cut back water use including taking shorter showers, filling bath tubs only halfway, not running water during shaving, fixing leaky faucets and reporting leaking fire hydrants.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Joel Miele said the dry weather and warmer temperatures combined to make the situation the city's worst "since back in the '60s."

"The rain that falls during the winter usually runs off frozen ground and into the reservoir system," said Miele, noting that precipitation was about 25 percent off.

"The rain that has been falling has been absorbed into the soft ground instead. This has been a unique year."

The drought watch, announced a month ago, was called when scientists declared there was only a 50 percent chance of having a full supply by June 1.

The watch becomes a warning when the chances are put at 33 percent. A drought emergency would go into effect if there was deemed no chance of getting back to normal by June 1.

The mayor said that if conditions did not improve over the next few months, "things could get really tight" by the autumn.

Record temps make for warm winter,
Jan. 29, 2002

Record-smashing heat blanketing much of the Midwest and Northeast is finally about to give way to winter weather blowing in from the West.

Short-sleeves, outdoor sports, and even ice cream made a resurgence since last weekend, when unseasonably warm weather began to break temperature records from Texas to New York.

"The temperatures are a bit lower through the Great Lakes today," said Buzz Bernard, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "Most of the temperatures have been falling a bit in the Northeast."

Bernard blamed a warm ridge of high pressure that lingered for several days over much of the eastern half of the country for the record-breaking warmth.

Now, the same system that brought an unusual snow day to the San Francisco area yesterday will put the deep freeze on the spring-like temperatures and activities that sprouted up in the Midwest and Northeast.

"There's some winter weather developing tonight in the Plains and Midwest," said Bernard, adding that the cold snap would hit the Northeast by Thursday.