More than 90% of West threatened by historic drought that may stretch through summer

A map of the severe conditions released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor – which was started in 2000 and is produced through a partnership of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – showed the vast region in dire straits.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BAKES IN HISTORIC HEAT WAVE, WILDFIRE RISKS SOAR

NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) reported that for the third consecutive week, “extreme” and “exceptional” drought levels have set a record, with 49.7% of the West in that category.

“The high prior to the 2020/2021 drought was July 23, 2002, at 45.3%,” the agency noted in a tweet.

More than 58 million people are impacted as the now more than two-decade-long drought worsens and multiple governors have declared states of emergency as temperatures and wildfire risk increase.

Intense, heat has plagued the West in recent weeks, baking already brittle vegetation, drying up worryingly empty reservoirs and smashing temperature records.

NOAA’s climate page described drought and heat as “natural dance partners,” with drought exacerbated when temperatures soar and vice versa.

A June 17 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change showed soil moisture has trended lower on the hottest days in the Southwest.

HISTORIC DROUGHT IN WEST BRINGS IN PLAGUE OF GRASSHOPPERS

Drought is also driven by La Niña conditions, which were in place through winter 2020 to 2021.

NOAA noted that there is evidence climate change has played a hand in creating this reality – with heat waves occurring more often and lasting longer since the 1960s and temperatures rising steadily due to the release of greenhouse gases.

Scientists warned last year that the worst-ever climate-spurred “megadroughts” could devastate the West, based on 1,200 years of tree ring data, modern weather observations and 31 advanced climate models.

Rick Thielmann, chief pilot at the Nevada Department of Wildlife, releases water using a "Bambi Bucket" at the "flipper" guzzler in the Muddy Mountains, in Clark County, Nev., Tuesday, June 8, 2021, during an emergency water haul operation. While the guzzlers are primarily utilized to assist the bighorn sheep population in the area, they also provide water for a variety of animals that populate the area. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Rick Thielmann, chief pilot at the Nevada Department of Wildlife, releases water using a “Bambi Bucket” at the “flipper” guzzler in the Muddy Mountains, in Clark County, Nev., Tuesday, June 8, 2021, during an emergency water haul operation. While the guzzlers are primarily utilized to assist the bighorn sheep population in the area, they also provide water for a variety of animals that populate the area. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Comments are closed.