It stretched drinking water supplies to the limit in northern Delaware, parched farm crops throughout the state, and spawned prayer breakfasts, editorials, and other supplications for rain. This past summer's drought was one of the most severe in Delaware's history, and many people want to know why it happened and how the state can better prepare itself for future droughts.
On Wednesday, November 17, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Dr. Daniel J. Leathers will present a special lunchtime lecture, "Drought in Delaware: A Rain of Concern." Leathers is Delaware's state climatologist and an associate professor of geography at the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research.
The lecture, which includes lunch, is the first in a series of four talks scheduled throughout the next year under the sponsorship of the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies and the Sea Grant College Program. The event costs $10 per person, and advance reservations are required.
Leathers will review the history and meteorology of droughts in Delaware, how society affects droughts, and where Delawareans get their water supply. Then he will forecast what the future holds for the First State, including some steps the state could take to ameliorate the impacts of a future drought.
"A drought as significant as this year's in northern Delaware may not have been so serious 40 years ago," says Leathers. "However, the population in northern Delaware has nearly doubled in the past 40 years. And this increase in population has placed increased pressure on water resources."
Leathers notes that the impact of the drought on drinking-water supplies was more severe in New Castle County than elsewhere in the state due to the more limited sources of water available to northern Delawareans.
"In northern Delaware, 75% of our water comes from surface streams," he says, "while the southern portion of the state is more greatly served by underground streams, or aquifers, which are depleted much less rapidly." However, there are several options available to northern Delaware to increase its drinking water supply, which Leathers says he'll discuss during his lecture.
Leathers has a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Lycoming College, and a master's degree in meteorology and a Ph.D. in geography from the Pennsylvania State University. He was appointed Delaware State Climatologist in 1993 and maintains a Web site at www.udel.edu/leathers/stclim.html that includes five-day forecasts for each of Delaware's counties plus other weather and climate information.
The lunch and lecture will be held Wednesday, November 17, at the Hotel du Pont, from noon to 1 p.m. To make reservations, at $10 per person, call (302) 831-2841. Or e-mail your reservations to MarineCom@udel.edu.
Upcoming lectures in the series include "The Horseshoe Crab: How Well Do You Know the Crab That Saved Your Life?" on January 13, "A Voyage to Life's Extreme: The Deep Sea" on March 14, and "All You Ever Wanted to Know about Blue Crabs and More" on May 23.