Now Reading
Western US May Be Experiencing Its Worst Dry Spell in 12 Centuries – Mother Jones

Western US May Be Experiencing Its Worst Dry Spell in 12 Centuries – Mother Jones

Western US May Be Experiencing Its Worst Dry Spell in 12 Centuries – Mother Jones

Lake Powell, pictured in Wahweap (Arizona), is currently at a record low of 24 percent.Luna Anna Archey/High Country News

Facts are important: Sign upFor the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. SupportOur nonprofit reporting. SubscribeSubscribe to our print magazine.

This story was first published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Across the WestState leaders are preparing for the long-term effects of aridification. In late April, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Additional four additional counties to the ‘drought emergency’ tally—now, half the state is in a state of emergency. Further south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to millions of city dwellers in Southern California, has restricted outdoor water usage For the first time ever. In Colorado, the US Department of Agriculture designated the entire state a “primary natural disaster area” due to the threat of drought—also considered an ‘unprecedented’ move. The Southwest has been hard hit by dry conditions. New Mexico and Utah issued separate emergency declarations. Water scarcity and the other for Wildfire.

The political designations allow states and counties to access resources and increase their power to deal with extreme water scarcity. This makes it possible for them to provide relief aid for the agricultural industry. Westerners will undoubtedly need it this summer, and—as the drought likely continues—future summers.

Shrinking snowpacks, parched topsoil and depleted reservoirs are symptoms of the West’s longest continuous streakSince 800 AD, there have been dry years. It is possible that the streak will continue. A study Published in Nature Climate Change in February predicted a 94 percent chance the drought stretches through 2023; the chances of it persisting through 2030 are 75 percent, when factoringIn continued impacts of a warming climate.

According to the US Drought Monitor, most of the West is in “moderate” to “severe drought.” Certain regions, like eastern and southwestern Oregon, California’s Central Valley, southern Nevada and eastern New Mexico are in “extreme” to “exceptional” drought.  

David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center

These are some numbers and notable coverage that will help you understand how drought is affecting the West. 


See Also

  • Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoirs, are at record lows—24% and 31%, respectively.. Powell’s stored supplies Have dropped to just about 5 million acre-feet, triggering emergency releases to stymie dropping levels. The lake can hold 26 million acres.
  • Cities, from San Diego to Las Vegas, are adapting with programs like “cash-for-grass” and water recycling, according to reporting from Yale Environment 360.
  • 98% of the Southwest This week is in droughtAccording to the US Drought Monitor, this is the case.
  • According to NASA Earth ObservatoryResearchers are seeing severe low-snow conditions and low-runoff conditions throughout the region. Their modeling shows that snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin has peaked about a month earlier than usual.

Lloyd’s Lake reservoir, which provides residential water to Monticello, Utah, was at 42 percent capacity at the end of March.

Luna Anna Archey/High Country News


  • According to Oregon’s Fifth Climate Assessment, the state’s annual average temperature has warmed by about 2.2 F per century since 1895. More than a third, on averageSince 2000, the area has been in drought.
  • Idaho’s water resource department reports that 58 percent of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions ranging from moderate to extreme. The state’s water resource department issued an emergency drought declaration in 34 out of its 44 counties in April.
  • Glaciers in Washington’s Olympic National Park could be gone by 2070According to a new study, the impacted on a significant source of summer water. Journal of Geophysical Research on Earth Surface. 


View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.