Despite one of its wettest Julys in state history since record-keeping began, California is now in the middle of its worst drought since February 2009. The Drought Monitor report shows that nearly 94 percent of the Golden State is in Severe or Worse drought. More than 11 percent is in extreme drought.
The last time California reported any extreme drought was in late December 2012.
Now the drought is drying up water reservoirs and hitting the wallets of rancher and farmers up and down the state. According to Mike Brewer, the Drought Monitor’s author, California is now in its second year of below-normal rainfall and currently in its driest January to July period on record.
Though the drought is growing in the West, the National Drought Mitigation Center urges that “it should be noted that California’s highly managed water delivery system protects urban and many agricultural water users from most effects of short-term droughts.”
Oregon is quickly catching up to California after reporting its driest July in its record books. Almost 34 percent of the state is in severe or extreme drought. The last time the state saw such high drought levels of these intensities was in August 2003. Now some are even helping prepare Oregon residents to prepare for the long drought.
The rest of the country has also been dealt varying degrees of what Discover magazine calls “Climate Schizophrenia.” In Kansas, for example, numerous storm systems drenched the central portion of the state. Drought has been eliminated out of 43 percent of the state.
However, further to the northeast in Iowa, conditions aren’t as desirable. July was Iowa’s 10th driest in state history. Drought conditions have steadily crept back into the state. Currently 35 percent of the state is in moderate drought. While still a far cry from the 58 percent reported in January, it’s more than double last week’s report of 16 percent.
Drought still dominates in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas, where drought has lingered for more than three months. However, conditions are finally showing signs of budging in the right direction. Currently 66 percent of New Mexico (down from 69 percent last week), 26 percent of Colorado (down from 27 percent last week), and 21 percent of Texas (down from 26 percent last week) are in extreme or worse drought.
AccuWeather released their Fall 2013 forecast this week, and for some – such as Oregon – relief may be felt soon. However, in California where wildfires are keeping fire crews on their toes, warm and dry weather will continue and extend the fire season even further. The group expects late cold shots for the northern Plains and early frost over much of the central and eastern Corn Belt.