DROUGHT

DROUGHT

Climate change is having a devastating affect on dry areas of the world and began influencing global drought risk for more than a century ago. Models predict that droughts will become more frequent and severe as temperatures rise, potentially causing food and water shortages, human health impacts, destructive wildfires and conflicts between peoples competing for resources. They project a new round of severe megadroughts, resulting in the driest period in 1,000 years for parts of the U.S., with droughts becoming more frequent and severe.

The United States Drought Monitor update their maps every Thursday and Climate Central has an informative page with graphics and videos. 

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Climate Change in National Parks

06/06/22
Climate Change Response Program Natural Resource Stewardship and Science. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. of glaciers and ice sheets. And of those that remain, most are shrinking at an accelerated rate. These…

Drought in numbers

05/11/22
The report, an authoritative compendium of drought-related information and data, helps inform negotiations of one of several decisions by UNCCD’s 196 member states, to be issued 20 May at the conclusion of COP15.

Western Drought 2020-2022

05/10/22
Climate change is a major contributor to the prolonged and intensifying drought that has impacted the western US since early 2020, as well as the underlying megadrought that has been ongoing since 2000.[1] Rising temperatures…

What the Western US megadrought tells us about climate change

03/09/22
A 22-year megadrought has made the Western United States the driest it has been since at least the year 800, according to a new study. A megadrought is essentially a prolonged drought that lasts for…

National Weather Service – Drought Information

09/11/19
The U.S. Drought monitor is an overview of drought types and drought impacts updated weekly based upon a combination of sources.

Explainer: ‘Desertification’ and the role of climate change

08/06/19
While the term may bring to mind the windswept sand dunes of the Sahara or the vast salt pans of the Kalahari, it’s an issue that reaches far beyond those living in and around the…

MORE NEWS

Las Vegas to save 10 billion gallons of water with new plan amid megadrought

06/01/22  
Millions of people in southern California are facing new water restrictions thanks to a megadrought crippling the Southwest. But southern Nevada has been conserving water for years. The area’s latest move is to tear out…

California drought could cut state’s hydropower in half this summer

By Matt Egan   06/01/22  
The severe drought in California threatens to significantly undermine the state's ability to generate hydroelectric power, raising costs for families and driving up planet-warming emissions, according to a federal government forecast.

Southwest megadrought pushes hydropower to the brink

By Jason Plautz  Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images   05/31/22  
As the megadrought gripping the Southwest stretches into its third decade, energy providers are preparing for a future where hydropower is no longer a reliable renewable resource.

Lake Mead could still tank in 2023, despite all we’ve done to save it

By Joanna Allhands   05/20/22  
Whatever buffer we may have had (or thought we had) at Lake Mead, it is quickly disappearing. The May 24-month study makes that plain. The monthly, two-year forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has…

The American West should brace for a blackout summer, electricity regulator warns

By Tristan Bove  Photo: George Rose—Getty Images   05/20/22  
Electricity shortages and blackouts are increasingly possible for the American West this summer, as an electrical operator warns of “out-of-the-ordinary” conditions.

Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

By Sammy Roth  Photo: Robert Gauthier , Los Angeles Times   05/12/22  
Water is flowing through two of three hydropower turbines in a blockish building at the base of Flaming Gorge Dam, so I can feel the floor buzzing — vibrations pulsating through my body — as…

California’s biggest reservoirs at ‘critically low levels’ before dry season

By Ethan Freedman   05/10/22  
Water levels in California’s two biggest reservoirs have dropped to “critically low levels” as the state faces another dry summer amid ongoing drought, according to a new report.

Wildfire threatens ‘cultural genocide’ in New Mexico villages

By Andrew Hay  Photo: Reuters/Kevin Mohatt   05/09/22  
Miguel Gandert does not know whether his family's 19th-century log home has been burned by a New Mexico wildfire, but he fears the blaze could destroy an Indo-Hispano mountain culture far older than the United…

Facing a new climate reality, Southern California lawns could wither

By Joshua Partlow  Photo: Jane Hahn , The Washington Post   05/09/22  
From behind the wheel of his work van, Fernando Gonzalez took in the immaculate front yard amid the arid and affluent hills north of Los Angeles. The red and white rosebushes. The loquat and pear…

Colorado River drought may be the ‘new normal’ and living with it will be costly, leaders say

By Brandon Loomis  Photo: Mark Henle   05/07/22  
Arizona needs to rapidly invest in both water conservation and new supplies to offset losses from a shrinking Colorado River, the state’s top water officials warned Friday.

As drought crisis deepens, government will release less water from Colorado River reservoir

By Ian James  Photo : Luis Sinco , Los Angeles Times   05/03/22  
After years of severe drought compounded by climate change, the water level in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir on the Colorado River, has dropped to just 24% of full capacity and is continuing to decline…
CNN

Lake Mead plummets to unprecedented low, exposing original 1971 water intake valve

By Stephanie Elam   04/29/22  
The West is in the grips of a climate change-fueled megadrought, and Lake Mead -- the largest manmade reservoir in the country and a source of water for millions of people -- has fallen to…

Drought Is Threatening Hydropower in the Southwestern US

By Doug Johnson   04/09/22  
NEWS THAT LAKE Powell, a reservoir on the border of Arizona and Utah, is slowly but surely drying up has spread far and wide. Behind the 1,320-megawatt Glen Canyon Dam and power station, Lake Powell…

The longest drought, redefined

04/06/22  
Maps of the American West have featured ever darker shades of red over the past two decades. The colors illustrate the unprecedented drought blighting the region. In some areas, conditions have blown past severe and…

As Lake Powell Hits Landmark Low, Arizona Looks to a $1 Billion Investment and Mexican Seawater to Slake its Thirst

By Aydali Campa  Photo: David McNew/Getty Images   03/23/22  
During his last year in office, Gov. Doug Ducey is trying to create a legacy of water security in drought-stricken Arizona. But his most ambitious effort in that quest could end up being in Mexico.

California’s drought is strangling the farming industry

By Scott Wilson  Photo: John Brecher/For The Washington Post   03/21/22  
Westside Elementary opened its doors nearly a century ago here in the San Joaquin Valley, among the most productive agricultural regions on earth. As recently as 1995, nearly 500 students filled its classrooms. Now 160…

Lake Powell Is in Big Trouble

By Molly Taft   03/09/22  
Lake Powell, on the border of Utah and Arizona, is a crucial reservoir along the Colorado River, part of a system that supplies water for 40 million people in multiple states across the West. As…

As drought lingers, larger and more destructive wildfires pose new threats to water supply

By Hayley Smith  Photo: Luis Sinco , Los Angeles Times   02/21/22  
Already diminished by drought and extreme heat, California’s water supply will face yet another peril as wildfires continue to incinerate ever larger areas of forested land, according to new research.

US west ‘megadrought’ is worst in at least 1,200 years, new study says

By Gabrielle Canon  Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Getty Images   02/15/22  
The American west has spent the last two decades in what scientists are now saying is the most extreme megadrought in at least 1,200 years. In a new study, published on Monday, researchers also noted…

Western ‘Megadrought’ Is the Worst in 1,200 Years

By Chelsea Harvey  Photo: Justin Sullivan , Getty Images   02/15/22  
The searing “megadrought” that has gripped the southwest U.S. for more than two decades is the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years. The region hasn’t seen a more severe drought since the start…

Drought in American West worst since Charlemagne

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images for the New York Times   02/15/22  
The American West is experiencing the worst drought in at least 1,200 years, new research shows, and climate change is responsible for 42 percent of its severity. The drought, which began in 2000 and has…
NPR

Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years

By Nathan Rott  Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR   02/14/22  
Shrunk reservoirs. Depleted aquifers. Low rivers. Raging wildfires. It's no secret that the Western U.S. is in a severe drought. New research published Monday shows just how extreme the situation has become...

Proposed ballot measure to build more California dams, desalination projects likely to be withdrawn due to lack of money and signatures

By Paul Rogers  Photo: Andrew Innerarity   01/27/22  
Despite California’s drought, a proposed statewide November ballot measure to speed up the construction of new dams and other large water projects — and provide billions of dollars to fund them — has fallen short…

Climate change fuels a water rights conflict built on over a century of broken promises

By Nick Kirkpatrick and others   11/22/21  
The simple way to think about this crisis: There’s no longer enough water to go around to meet the needs of farmers and Native American populations as well as fish and birds.

Cloud seeding gains steam as West faces worsening droughts

By Maddie Stone  Photo: David Bogie/Idaho Power Company   11/21/21  
As the first winter storms rolled through this month, a King Air C90 turboprop aircraft contracted by the hydropower company Idaho Power took to the skies over southern Idaho to make it snow.

California records driest year in a century

By Laura Anaya-Morga  Photo: Brian van der Brug   10/18/21  
In a year of both extreme heat and extreme drought, California has reported its driest water year in terms of precipitation in a century, and experts fear the coming 12 months could be even worse.…

In Arizona, Drought Ignites Tensions and Threatens Traditions Among the Hopi

By Simon Romero  Photo: Tomás Karmelo Amaya   10/02/21  
On the bone-dry plateau where the Hopi people have lived for well over a thousand years, Robinson Honani pulled his truck to the side of a dirt road and pointed to a carcass. “This is…

Even small additional increases in greenhouse gases will make decades-long “megadroughts” in the Southwest more common

By Michon Scott and Rebecca Lindsey   09/27/21  
At the dawn of the 21st century, drought descended on southwestern North America. Two decades later, the drought continues. Recent NOAA-funded research found that even small additional increases in greenhouse gas emissions will make such…

Climate Scientists Forecast High Temperatures Into the Fall

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images   09/16/21  
After a summer of blistering heat across much of the country, the hotter-than-normal conditions that have contributed to severe drought across the West are forecast to continue into the fall, scientists with the National Oceanic…

‘Drought is the norm:’ California’s water crisis becomes perpetual

By Kumail Afshar and Siena Swift  Photo: Shutter Theory   09/16/21  
California residents are used to drought conditions, with shorter showers encouraged by teachers and conservationists, ads paid for by the state supporting abstaining from watering lawns and rainy days few and far between. But 5C…

Growing Uncertainty in the Central Valley

By Anna Wiener   09/15/21  
One weekend in late June, I drove with friends to Yolo County, California, a rural area in the Sacramento Valley. It was the second day of a multiday heat wave, and temperatures approached the triple…

California’s disappearing salmon

By Scott Wilson  Photo: Melina Mara   09/13/21  
For centuries, spring-run Chinook salmon, among California’s most iconic fish, would rest for weeks in these historically cold waters after their brutal upstream journey. Then they would lay eggs and, finally, perish to complete one…

When Hard Jobs Turn Hazardous

By Sergio Olmos  Photo: Jordan Gale   09/05/21  
In early summer, a day laborer laying irrigation lines at a plant nursery just south of Portland, Ore., collapsed to the ground and died. His official cause of death was declared “heat related.”

One California City’s Creative Drought Fix

By Soumya Karlamangla  Photo: Jim Wilson , The New York Times   08/26/21  
Take a drive through this picture-perfect wine country town and you’ll start to spot them, unsubtle symbols of our state’s extreme drought.

Water Crisis In The West, v5.0 — The Colorado River Story

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Ricardo Frantz   08/25/21  
Well, folks, it happened, but it comes as no surprise. The Federal Government has officially declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time in history.

‘The Worst Thing I Can Ever Remember’: How Drought Is Crushing Ranchers

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen   08/25/21  
Darrell Rice stood in a field of corn he’d planted in early June, to be harvested in the fall and chopped up to feed the hundreds of cows and calves he raises in central North…

Drought and Climate Change Shift Tree Disease in Sierra Nevada

By Kat Kerlin  Photo: Joan Dudney/UC Davis   08/24/21  
Even pathogens have their limits. When it gets too hot or too dry, some pathogens — like many living things — search for cooler, wetter and more hospitable climes. Ecologists have questioned if a warming,…

The incredible shrinking Colorado River

By Jonathan Thompson  Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images   08/23/21  
One of the most visible signs of the state of the West’s water supply is the big bathtub ring around the sandstone rim of Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir. Whenever the massive hydrological system that…

Western Drought Will Last Into Fall or Longer

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images   08/19/21  
The severe drought that has gripped much of the western half of the United States in spring and summer is likely to continue at least into late fall, government forecasters said Thursday.

Climate change and droughts: What’s the connection?

By Tiffany Means  Photo: docentjoyce   08/18/21  
Events such as the moderate-to-extreme drought conditions that covered more than half of the mainland U.S. in 2012, the megadrought in the West that continues today, and summer 2021’s record-low water levels at Lake Mead…

In a First, U.S. Declares Shortage on Colorado River, Forcing Water Cuts

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images   08/16/21  
With climate change and long-term drought continuing to take a toll on the Colorado River, the federal government on Monday for the first time declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, one of the river’s…

Is Western U.S. experiencing a ‘megadrought’?

By Peter Sinclair   08/15/21  
The Western U.S. is shattering drought records this summer. For the first time since the drought monitor was created, over 95% of the region is in drought. Near Las Vegas, Lake Mead – the largest…

Severe Drought Could Threaten Power Supply in West for Years to Come

By Lindsay Huth and Taylor Umlauf  Photo: Carter McCall/WSJ   08/14/21  
As drought persists across more than 95% of the American West, water elevation at the Hoover Dam has sunk to record-low levels, endangering a source of hydroelectric power for an estimated 1.3 million people across…

Small Towns Grow Desperate for Water in California

By Thomas Fuller  Photo: Max Whittaker   08/14/21  
As a measure of both the nation’s creaking infrastructure and the severity of the drought gripping California there is the $5 shower. That’s how much Ian Roth, the owner of the Seagull Inn, a bed-and-breakfast…

The Lost Canyon Under Lake Powell

By Elizabeth Kolbert   08/09/21  
The scope of the spending outlined by Democrats is vast, reflecting the party’s grand ambitions to grow the size and reach of the federal government to a level not seen in decades. The measure paves…

Illegal cannabis growers are stealing water amid California’s drought, officials say

By Rachel Pannett  Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images   07/28/21  
California’s deepening drought is creating another big problem for authorities: water theft. Water thieves, many of them illegal marijuana growers, are tapping into fire hydrants and drilling unauthorized water wells, according to officials, threatening the…

Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

By Julia Wick  Photo: Gary Coronado   07/23/21  
As California endures an increasingly brutal second year of drought, state water regulators are considering an emergency order that would bar thousands of Central Valley farmers from using stream and river water to irrigate their…

Drone photos reveal the shocking truth of California’s parched landscape

By Brian Van Der Brug  Photo: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times   07/21/21  
As the West descends deeper into drought, climate and water experts are growing increasingly alarmed by California’s shriveling reservoirs. Photos of Lake Oroville, Folsom Lake, Trinity Lake and Lake Shasta, taken by Times photographer Brian van…

Extreme Drought Could Shut Down a Hydroelectric Power Plant In California

By Audrey Carleton   07/19/21  
Officials are preparing for the likelihood that California’s record breaking drought will come for its renewable energy stores. The West Coast state, which has been weathering wildfires, 126-year rainfall lows, and a historic heat dome, announced on Friday that it…

Scorched, Parched and Now Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits Wine Country

By Christopher Flavelle  Photo: Mike Kai Chen   07/18/21  
Last September, a wildfire tore through one of Dario Sattui’s Napa Valley wineries, destroying millions of dollars in property and equipment, along with 9,000 cases of wine. November brought a second disaster: Mr. Sattui realized…