CNN

The West’s historic drought in maps

Jul 8, 2021, 7:08 AM | Updated: 7:10 am

More than 25 percent of the West is in an exceptional drought, which is the most severe category us...

More than 25 percent of the West is in an exceptional drought, which is the most severe category used by the US Drought Monitor. Mandatory Credit: US Drought Monitor/CNN

    (CNN) — Vast swaths of the West remain in a historic and unrelenting drought, the worst in the region in at least 20 years.

Drought conditions as of Thursday expanded and worsened in the West, especially in the Pacific Northwest, after another week of hot and dry weather, according to the US Drought Monitor.

Across the US, the drought has nearly doubled in size from this time last year. Around 25% of the country was in drought conditions in July 2020; as of this week, nearly half is in drought.

In addition to mandatory water restrictions already in place, even stricter cuts are looming amid the drought in some states as water levels plummet along the Colorado River.

Climate change is playing a key role in these compounding crises: Drought and extreme heat are fueling wildfires; reduced snowpack and the lack of substantial precipitation are exacerbating water demands for millions of people, as well as agriculture, ecosystems and deteriorating infrastructure.

Current drought

More than 93% of the West is in drought, the highest on record, with nearly 60% in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought, the two most severe categories. There are five states completely in drought conditions; California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and North Dakota.

Exceptional drought in Oregon expanded, according to the US Drought Monitor, which said the state’s current conditions are among the driest since the late 1800s. In Washington, “rangeland and pasture conditions are far worse this year when compared to all other years this century.”

The Big Lost River in Idaho “is almost out of storage,” the Drought Monitor wrote, and there is “significant agricultural impacts to the state, including crop loss, a lack of forage, and animal deaths.”

As the planet warms, drought and extreme heat will also fuel deadly wildfires. Multiple studies have linked rising carbon dioxide emissions and high temperatures to increased acreage of burning across the West, particularly in California.

Rainfall outlook

The West experienced extremely low rain and snowfall over the past year, compounded by drastically high temperatures. Less rain and increasing heat waves have led directly to drought conditions and water shortages.

As climate change accelerates and winter temperatures increase, snowfall will decrease. High-elevation snowpack serves as a natural reservoir that eases drought, storing water through the winter months and slowly releasing it through the spring melting season.

Stream and river flow

Streamflow, a measure of how much water is carried by rivers and streams, is another significant indicator of drought and its impact.

As drought conditions have worsened in 2021, hundreds of stream and river locations are experiencing below-average flow. More than 50 percent of the western monitoring stations reported lighter-than-usual flows. Fishing restrictions have also been put in place on many rivers in Montana due to low flows and warm waters.

Changes in streamflow affect the water supply for our own municipal use, crop irrigation and power generation.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Soldiers carry the coffin of Ukrainian poet and serviceman Maksym Kryvtsov who was killed in action...

Stephanie Halasz and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Zelensky warns ‘millions will be killed’ without US aid to Kyiv, as Ukrainian troop deaths reach at least 31,000

“Millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request.

2 days ago

Kathy Brandel and her husband of 27 years, Ralph Hendry...

Sharif Paget, Chris Boyette and Polo Sandoval, CNN

Family of Americans believed dead after yacht allegedly hijacked in Grenada describe scene of violence

The family of two Americans who may have been killed in an alleged yacht high jacking in Granada hope the couple might be found alive.

2 days ago

Police tape drapes the crime scene on a trail behind Lake Herrick at the University of Georgia in A...

Ashley R. Williams, Raja Razek, Priscilla Alvarez, Isabel Rosales and Jaide Timm-Garcia, CNN

Questions remain in investigation of death of Augusta University student found on UGA campus

As the investigation continues into the death of an Augusta University student, officials confirmed the immigration status of a suspect.

2 days ago

Kenneth Mitchell, here in 2018, has died....

Megan Thomas, CNN

Kenneth Mitchell, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Marvel’ actor, dead at 49

A native of Canada, Mitchell acquired more than 50 film and television credits over the course of his acting career. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2019.

3 days ago

Charles E. Escalera, 21...

Michelle Watson and Maria Sole Campinoti, CNN

Kentucky man arrested in connection with death of Campbellsville University student

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a student at Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

3 days ago

Former President Donald Trump walks on stage during the 2024 NRB International Christian Media Conv...

Fredreka Schouten, CNN

Wisconsin ethics panel recommends criminal prosecution for a Trump fundraising committee

A Wisconsin ethics panel is recommending that prosecutors pursue charges against one of Donald Trump’s fundraising arms.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

The West’s historic drought in maps