Drought is tightening its grip across the Southwest and High Plains regions as extreme-dry conditions spread throughout the area, per NOAA’s High Plains Regional Climate Center data released May 8th.
On the southern high plains, Oklahoma remains ground zero for the worst drought conditions in the United States; about 20 percent of the state is facing “exceptional drought” conditions – the worst possible classification. And almost all of the Texas Panhandle is seeing extreme drought or worse conditions.
Most of Colorado also is under moderate to severe drought. Abnormal dryness or drought are currently affecting approximately 4,159,000 people in Colorado, which is about 83% of the state’s population, with a 67.98 % area of moderate to severe drought in terms of total state area.
The federal drought map shows dry conditions have worsened across Kansas and the northern High Plains as well.
Like other states, Utah’s drought can be traced to a 12-week stretch of low precipitation this winter, when the mountains saw some of the lowest snow totals in recent history — also an ominous sign for the state’s renowned skiing sites. Much of Utah’s water reserves were replenished last winter, after a bruising period from 2012 to 2016 that nearly depleted the state’s water reserves.
As a result, lack of water isn’t a concern in Utah currently, Brian McInerney, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service, said.
But danger of forest fires will be elevated as the hot summer edges closer, he said – applying to Colorado as well.
Read more on caring for your landscape trees during a drought: Protecting and Caring for Your Trees In Drought Conditions
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cr: 2018 High Plains Drought Conditions Intensifying