California is in megadrought, where’s the conservation?
Almost half the US is in drought and there’s little sign of letting up, NOAA says
The HILL By Alexandra Kelley | March 18, 2021
A dried out lake stands near the Navajo Nation town of Thoreau on June 06, 2019 in Thoreau, New Mexico. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
- NOAA’s Spring forecast suggests a substantial drought with a corresponding lack of rainfall.
- Any severe flooding is also predicted to be unlikely.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its Spring Outlook on Thursday, a seasonal forecast predicting what the U.S. can expect for the upcoming Spring season.
Notably, it’s much drier than average, with more than half of the U.S. experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions. This area encompasses parts of the Pacific Coast all the way inland to the Great Plains and upper Midwest.
Officials at the NOAA expect this trend to continue, becoming the most severe spring drought the U.S. has seen since 2013, affecting about 74 million people.
- The culprit here is likely due to dry conditions in the Southwest U.S. thanks to La Niña, the cooling of ocean temperatures.
Additionally, a lack of rain in the summer of 2020 also contributes to the spring’s dry conditions.
“The Southwest U.S., which is already experiencing widespread severe to exceptional drought, will remain the hardest hit region in the U.S., and water supply will continue to be a concern this spring in these drought-affected areas,” Mary Erickson, the deputy director of the National Weather Service said in a press release. “This is a major change from recent years where millions were impacted by severe flooding.”
The Eastern U.S., by contrast, stands to experience no significant drought activity.
Improvement could be seen in parts of the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, as well as in New England.
Further tempering these conditions are higher than average rain forecasts for parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast regions along with Hawaii.
Running parallel to predictions of arid conditions is a low chance of flooding for the first time since 2018.
“Our national hydrologic assessment helps to inform the Nation where there will likely be too much or too little water. This spring, we anticipate a reduced risk for flooding, and forecast significantly below average water supply where impacts due to low flow contribute to the continued drought,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala.