With more than two-thirds of Washington state experiencing abnormal dry conditions and more than half of the state experiencing moderate drought, Governor Jay Inslee on Friday declared a statewide drought emergency.
According to the Washington state department of agriculture, about $1.2bn of crops could be lost as a result of the drought this year.
At the beginning of the month, the Natural Resources Conservation Service found that of 98 snow sites measured in Washington, 66 were snow-free, 11 for the first time ever. According to Inslee’s office, snowpack in Washington’s mountains has dropped to just 16% of normal levels.
In California, snow on the mountains has fallen to 12% of average levels, from 28% last year. As a result, the state’s department of natural resources expects more early-season and higher-elevation wildfires.
The droughts in California and Washington are only the beginning, a study written by the scientists at the Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory predicts that the US south-west and the Great Plains will face decade-long droughts far worse than any experienced over the last 1,000 years, because of climate change.
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