Saturday, May 18, 2024

Western U.S. sees worsening of historic drought

An early-season heat wave sending temperatures into triple digits in the western U.S. is a worrying sign for a region already in the grips of a historic drought. Now, as fire season ramps up, unprecedented water shortages are in the mix, raising anxieties among farmers and municipal water managers facing reductions or being cut off from water, CNET reports. As of June 15, over 26% of the western U.S. is experiencing exceptional drought, which is what the US Drought Monitor considers the most intense level of dryness, and nearly 98% of the West is seeing some level of drought. Research that doesn’t include the last two years suggests the period from 2000 to 2018 in the Southwest was the driest such span seen in more than four centuries. Palm Springs, Calif., on Thursday tied the highest temperature in recorded history: 123 degrees F (50.6 Celsius). Earlier in the week, Santa Fe, New Mex., which sits at an elevation of 7,200 feet (2,195 metres) tied its all-time high of 102 degrees F (38.9 C). California is beginning to cut off water supplies to farmers and other users in much of its Central Valley and the Russian River watershed. The Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

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