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
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 significant “target elevation” for 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.”