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Southwest drought worsens, increasing fire risk and creating water crisis

Southwest drought worsens, increasing fire risk and creating water crisis

The monitor reported that more than 98% in the Southwest are in drought this week. It noted that reservoir storage levels in all Western States, except Washington, were below-normal.

In California, which is entirely in drought conditions, two of the state’s largest reservoirs — Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville — are at “critically low levels,” according to the monitor.

The snowpack in the Sierry Nevada mountains is a result of winter precipitation. It then melts gradually during spring, replenishing reservoirs. However, the snowpack’s water content is decreasing this year. Only 4% of the normalBy the end winter
Southern California water district officials Water restrictions announcedLast week, residents and businesses in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties were asked to reduce outdoor watering to just one day per week starting June 1.

“This crisis is unprecedented. This is unprecedented,” Adel Hagekhalil (general manager, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California) said. “We have never done something like this before. And because we haven’t seen this happen before, we don’t have enough to meet the normal water needs of the six millions people who live in the State Water Project dependent zones.”

California is not the only state suffering from a drought-driven water crisis. The Rio Grande Basin’s Elephant Butte Reservoir is approximately 13% full. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation Lake Powell was 24% full in the Colorado River Basin while Lake Mead was 31%.

The federal government announced on Tuesday that it is taking unprecedented, urgent steps to raise water levels at Lake Powell. Lake Powell supplies water for millions of people and generates enough power to power as many as 5.8million homes and businesses across seven states. The water level in Lake Mead is so low that not only one but two of the reservoir’s original reservoirs are exposed. Water intake valvesNot only is it the first time, but also the last. A barrel for the body.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had earlier made this announcement in March. Predicted drought conditions would expand eastward this spring and worsen in some locations — conditions that are now priming much of the Southern landscape for dangerous, fast-moving fires. Two months ago, the agency stated that “prolonged, persistent drought” in the West was most likely. This is exactly what it is this spring.

Wildfires that were sparked by drought

According to the US Drought Monitor, “In California and Southwest, conditions were dry during this week with strong winds observed throughout the region.” “The dry, windy conditions have exacerbated fire weather conditions in Arizona and New Mexico, where large early-season wildfires are currently affecting the region.”

New Mexico saw the most drastic increase in drought severity, extreme and extraordinary. This added over 14,000 square miles, nearly twice the area of New Jersey, to the worst classifications.

Officials worry Southern California won't have enough water to get through summer without unprecedented cuts
The dry conditions in New Mexico were ideal for the largest fire in 2022. The Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak firesThese two merged areas have already burned over 160,000 acres. This is more land that has been burned in 2022 than the combined two previous years.

The fires forced the evacuation of thousands, with large areas of the state being under severe fire threat.

“Most Southwest is expected to have above normal significant fire potential in May/June,” the National Interagency Fire CenterThis week’s report.

Elsewhere, nearly a quarter of Texas is now in exceptional drought — the most severe category — which is the largest area for the state since 2014. This situation will only get worse as Texas faces an early-season heat wave, which the state’s power provider ERCOT warns will cause strain on the region’s power grid.

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The drought summary showed some improvements in drought, including in Oregon, where there were reductions in all four drought designations due to recent storms.

Scientists believe that the West’s multi-year-old drought is a clear indicator of how climate change is affecting not just the weather but also communities’ water supply, food production, and livelihoods.

The current conditions is particularly worrisome for many, considering it is only spring season — and summertime heat may worsen conditions. As the planet heats, extreme heat and drought will also fuel wildfires that can cause water shortages.

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