Drought in West and other parts of US will continue and expand in coming months, NOAA reports

The West’s intense multi-year drought is expected to at least continue — if not worsen — in the coming months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday in its spring outlook.

Vir die tweede jaar in 'n ry, NOAA forecasters are predictingprolonged, persistent drought in the West where below-average precipitation is most likely,” the agency wrote.
Byna 60% of the Lower 48 was experiencing moderate to exceptional dry conditions hierdie week, the largest area in a decade. In Kalifornië, which did not get enough much-needed precipitation this winter, extreme drought expanded from 12% of the state to 35% die afgelope week, Volgens Thursday’s Drought Monitor report.
      And there’s little relief in sight.
        “[The forecasts] are not favorablefor the drought, Justin Mankin, the co-lead for NOAA’s Drought Task Force, aan CNN gesê. “I think you’re going to see a rapid re-establishment of conditions analogous to last fall quite quickly across a number of states.
          Water availability is a high concern in the West, the Drought Monitor noted in its report. Across the region, the need for precipitation is dire. Years of low rainfall and more intense heat waves have fed directly to multi-year, unrelenting drought conditions and water shortages. These water concerns are likely to persist this year given NOAA’s spring outlook, which calls for below-average precipitation in the West and Southern Plains.
          The intense drought has pushed reservoirs in the West to alarmingly low water depths.
          On the Colorado River, Lake Powell plunged below a critical threshold this week — 3,525 feet above sea level — sparking additional concerns about water supply and a critical source of hydropower generation that millions of people in the Western states rely on for electricity.
          According to the US Bureau of Reclamation’s drought contingency plans, the 3,525-foot mark is a significanttarget elevationfor Lake Powell, under which the situation becomes dire. The 3,525-foot target is crucial because it allows a 35-foot buffer for emergency response to prevent Lake Powell from dropping below the minimum pool elevation of 3,490 feet above sea level, the lowest at which Glen Canyon Dam is able to generate hydropower for millions of people.
            Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, also dipped below a critical level last fall which triggered unprecedented water cuts for states in the Southwest.
            This year the Colorado River Basin has experienced extremely variable conditions with a record high snowpack one month, followed by weeks without snow,” Reclamation Acting Commissioner David Palumbo said in a statement last week, in anticipation of the reservoir dropping. “This variable hydrology and a warmer, drier west have drastically impacted our operations and we are faced with the urgent need to manage in the moment.

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