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February 2015 Water Conditions Summary

February 2015 air temperatures were the second coldest since record-keeping began in 1934 at the National Weather Service (NWS) station in Baltimore, Maryland, and were 10.5 degrees below normal for the month. Precipitation was also below normal in February, although above normal snowfall occurred. The cold weather caused many streams to freeze, requiring estimates to be made for the monthly means, and these values are provisional and subject to change.

In February, 58 percent of groundwater levels and 46 percent of monthly mean streamflows were normal (between the 25th and 75th percentiles) at sites used to monitor the response of water resources to changes in climatic conditions in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

Graph showing percentiles for monthly water conditions

Groundwater levels were normal in 58 percent (a 15-percent decrease since January), or 15 of 26 of the wells used to monitor climatic conditions in Maryland and Delaware in February. The groundwater level in the USGS observation well in Carroll County, Maryland was at a February record low and the USGS observation well in Allegany County, Maryland had a groundwater level below the 10th percentile. Of the remaining wells, six had below normal groundwater levels and three had above normal groundwater levels.

February monthly mean streamflows were normal at 46 percent (a 31-percent decrease since January), or 13 of the 28 streamgages. There were insufficient data to calculate monthly means at five sites in February. Streamflow was above normal at 2 streamgages, and below normal at 13 streamgages, although ice may be influencing the rank of many streams in the region.

*A percentile is a value on a scale from 0 to 100 that indicates the percent of a distribution that is equal to or below it. A percentile between 25 and 75 is considered normal. For example, a groundwater level in the 90th percentile is equal to or greater than 90 percent of the values recorded for that month.

To view more detailed information about Monthly Water Conditions in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, use the navigation menu on the left.

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Current Monthly Water Conditions Report.


Why is it important for the USGS to collect and analyze water resources data?

USGS water data are valuable to the public, researchers, water managers, planners, and agricultural users, especially during floods and droughts. These data can be used to assess how water resources respond to changes in climate. Scientists at the USGS have measured streamflow and groundwater levels in wells to assess water resources for over 125 years.

In addition to providing the most extensive set of historical streamflow and groundwater data available to the public, the USGS collects water data and quality-assures the data by employing standardized techniques across the country. The uniformity of the dataset allows for multi-state comparisons and other comparative statistical analyses that better inform policy makers of the possible water resource conditions they might encounter in the future.

The sites used in this water summary were carefully selected to show the response of streamflow and groundwater levels to precipitation. Ideally, these sites will show minimal effects from human influences. The streamflow and groundwater data are ranked in comparison to the historical record and summarized. Precipitation and reservoir data are also presented to give a more complete picture of the region’s water resources.

 


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