drought weather

DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/richmond times-dispatch

Lewis and Julie Harvie work on loading corn stalk bales in Amelia County on Thursday. They usually feed their cows with hay but they can’t find it nearby due to the drought. And they have to feed them with the corn stalk instead.

Gov. Ralph Northam is encouraging Virginians to keep an eye on their water usage and prepare for possible conservation measures.

Northam declared a statewide drought watch advisory on Friday, which is aimed at increasing awareness and preparation due to the lack of rain. If it is upgraded to a drought warning, water contingency plans would go into effect and more localities could see voluntary or mandatory usage restrictions.

The latest drought report shows dry conditions expanding across the state, which is hampering agriculture, increasing the fire danger, and causing some water supplies to dwindle.

While mandatory restrictions are not in place at this time, either at the state or local levels, the governor’s statement called for Virginians to monitor their water usage and take early steps to cut down on non-essential use and fix leaks.

As of Friday, at least three dozen Virginia localities had outdoor burn bans in effect. Powhatan County joined the growing list of central Virginia counties which are restricting open burning, which also includes Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa and Goochland. For the latest status, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry’s online map or contact county offices.

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Check Richmond.com/weather for John Boyer’s videos and forecast updates. Contact him at JBoyer@timesdispatch.com.

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