Amid severe water shortage, rainfall offers some hope in parts of the US – The Hill


The story at a glance

  • States across the country are adapting to higher average temperatures and drought conditions.

  • Dry lakes and water shortages are a concern for the agricultural industry and human health.

  • Seasonal weather patterns can provide respite to some areas with a history of drier conditions.

More than 87 million Americans currently reside in drought-affected areas, with the majority of the population concentrated in the south and west of the country.

In Nevada, Lake Mead water levels have fallen to their lowest point in 80 years, and in Texas, the city of Houston is asking residents to voluntarily conserve water.

Despite these severe conditions, cooler and wetter weather in the upper Midwest as well as rainfall in the High Plains region offer some hope for drylands and residents.

Additionally, storms and below-normal temperatures have swept across the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains in recent months, easing projections of predicted water deficits for this region.

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In Washington, rains throughout the spring helped prevent drier conditions in western parts of the state. A combination of La Niña and an active Atlantic hurricane season could also bring relief to the Midwest later this summer.

However, some areas slipped into “abnormally dry” conditions this week, according to the US Drought Monitor, including the Ohio Valley and parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

High winds in Colorado and Wyoming exacerbated conditions in those areas, while extreme drought conditions extended into central Nevada and parts of New Mexico.

Besides the contiguous United States, parts of Alaska and Hawaii are also experiencing drought conditions. In Alaska, severe drought conditions have returned for the first time since 2019, and several days of rain will be needed to improve conditions in the state, local media reports. Droughts can also exacerbate wildfires in the state, which have already burned more than 900,000 acres.

In Hawaii, ranchers and farmers are struggling to adapt to the dry heat through water conservation efforts and controlling insect infestations.

Puerto Rico is also experiencing drought conditions, and the majority of the island is classified as being under “moderate drought”.

Posted on June 22, 2022


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