Half the Country Now Facing Drought

On the flip-side of the polar vortex in the climate news department, drought conditions are worsening across the country. In much of the West, the drought means water supply challenges and a growing threat of fire.

1 minute read

May 16, 2014, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"Fully half of the mainland United States is now facing drier-than-usual conditions, with 15 percent of the country experiencing "extreme" to "exceptional" drought," reports Brad Plummer. The article pulls a bunch of infographics from the most recent National Drought Monitor report, released by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The article focuses in particular on California, which is now completely in the grips of what could be a record drought—on a 500-year scale. According to Plummer's report, "every single part of California is now facing 'severe,' 'extreme,' or 'exceptional' drought — the first time that's happened in the monitor's 15-year history."

It's likely that the state's dry conditions are contributing to the early arrival of wildfires, which are currently burning and threatening homes in San Diego County. Plummer's post details the higher risk of wildfire across the West, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.

A separate post on the NASA Earth Observatory site also shares a bit of insight into the drought conditions in Oklahoma and Texas, which are facing a drought lasting four years.

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