Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Droughts Impact 'Location' Buying Factor

by Broderick Perkins
© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom – If you are considering a move to a growing number of regions, be prepared to live a lifestyle heavily influenced by dry weather conditions.

Droughts are no longer passing events that wring out the ecosystem and dry up water supplies somewhere else. They are spreading further, they linger longer and that increases the chance one will impact your decision about where to buy a home.

The southeast drought that has created water turf wars in parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida has captured the headlines in recent weeks, because water supplies are at risk.

However, a growing number of regions are also experiencing or expecting prolonged dry spells.

Rather than rare or random, drought is a normal, but temporary aberration, unlike aridity -- a permanent condition of some climatic regions, such as deserts.

Drought comes and it goes as a result of a precipitation deficiency over an extended period of time, typically a season or more, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC).

However, scientists say, climate change can impact both the expanse of arid regions and the frequency, duration and depth of drought.

What areas are most at risk for the scorched earth effects of drought?

According to Bert Sperling's BestPlaces.net, they are Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA; San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA; Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro, TN; Chattanooga, TN-GA; Birmingham-Hoover, AL; Greenville, SC and Knoxville, TN.
They've been ranked "America's Drought-Riskiest Cities," based on the Sperling Drought Indices available on a new Web site DroughtScore.com.

The site points to the shrinking Great Lakes, 4.4 million residents in the southeast with a dwindling water supply and fires in Southern California as drought generated conditions impacting lifestyles.

Sperling used data available from the National Climatic Data Center, including long-term precipitation trends and patterns, and the Palmer drought indices to develop the Sperling Drought Indices.

A score of 100 represents the climatic normal for a given area. Values greater than 100 represent drier conditions, and values less than 100 indicate wetter conditions.

The drought riskiest locales have scores of 120 or higher. The lowest, where wet conditions could also cause trouble, have scores at about 77 or lower. Texas is most at risk for getting soaked, while California regions are most likely to dry up.

At DroughtScore.com, visitors can determine the drought score and make comparisons for every city, town and ZIP code in the U.S. That's more than 50,000 locations.

Along with the single drought score, which measures the current drought conditions in an area, DroughtScore.com also graphs the scores for the last 13 months and compares the local area to state and national averages.

Why do we need so much information on a weather condition that's largely been a passing event impacting only select regions?

Failing to account for drought conditions could be just as potentially disastrous in choosing a place to live as it is to ignore the existence of quake faults, storm regions and those prone to flooding.

Sperling himself explains it best.

"In the past we've been able to overwhelm nature by throwing resources at it in the form of money, energy and time. Unfortunately with higher prices of energy, with people crowding, we buy our way out of it anymore."

"If global warming is going to be with us and it looks that way, even the most hardened cynic has to take a look at the evidence that we are in a drought cycle and the easy availability of water isn't there anymore."

"It's a good idea to keep this information in mind because some places may not be as livable as they have been in the past. If you are not in a large metropolitan area where there are water table and water rights, aquifers and reservoirs available, you may be on your own in those areas," Sperling said.

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© 2007 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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