Drought

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Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.boisestatepublicradio.org.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Driest June On Record For Wettest Part Of Washington

Jul 2, 2015
Greg Schechter/FLIKR

Last month was the driest June record for the wettest part of Washington State. The Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park got just 0.17 inches of rain last month. 

Dean Jackson / Flickr

Drought conditions are getting worse in Washington state.

Tuesday, lawmakers will decide whether to provide emergency funding to the state’s hardest-hit areas. Snowpack levels are lower than ever, rivers are drying out and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.

Ore. Governor Declares More Drought Emergencies

May 22, 2015
Bert Kaufmann

Governor Kate Brown declared drought emergencies in eight additional counties around Oregon Friday, bringing the total to 15.

She also released a public service announcement launching #ORdrought.

“It may look green now, but we are going to experience one of the worst droughts in the history of our state. Snow pack is at historic lows and severe water shortages are nearly a certainty in many areas,” says Brown.

Brown added that it’s likely to be a difficult fire season.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

He says snowpack levels are at unprecedented lows, rivers are drying out and irrigation districts are cutting off water to farmers.

NOAA

Regional power managers are meeting in Portland this week. One issue they're looking at is how drought conditions across the Northwest may affect the region's supply of hydropower.

Water supply forecasts are looking bleak for many Northwest rivers this year. Snowpack levels in many areas are far below average, and they're not likely to improve.

John Fazio is a power systems analyst for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. He said that will mean less water in rivers and less hydropower.

A drive across the Northwest quickly reveals things look really dry everywhere.

From Wenatchee, Washington, to Bend, Oregon, whitewater rafting guides are preparing for a flood of business as school lets out. But this year’s low snowpack could mean less whitewater and more demand for trips.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Friday significantly expanded a drought declaration due to dwindling snowpack.

Across the Northwest, farmers are already making tough calls because of this year’s drought. The dismal snowpack is to blame.

California Governor Jerry Brown ordered statewide mandatory water saving measures Wednesday. Water managers are preparing for drought in Oregon and Washington state as well.

Federal agencies have expanded how much of the Northwest they think is suffering from drought.

An updated map released Thursday shows 88 percent of Idaho's territory is now categorized in moderate to severe drought. Just over half of Oregon is similarly parched. Washington state is faring better with just a sliver of land on the Idaho border classified in drought conditions.

Satellite image courtesy National Weather Service

The streak of dry weather in much of the Northwest is about to come to a soggy end. A weather system fueled by subtropical moisture is bearing down on the region.

Most of us may be enjoying the fall sunshine, but Northwest wheat farmers are instead wishing for a little rain. Correspondent Anna King caught up with one Northwest wheat grower in the vast Horse Heaven Hills near Prosser, Washington.

Study: "Megadrought" The New Normal In The West

Jul 30, 2012
Beverly Law

The drought that hit the West from 2000-2004 is not only the worst in 800 years, but it could be the new “normal."  That’s according to new research in the journal Nature Geoscience.

You’d have to go back to the middle ages to find a period as dry as 2000-2004 in the American West. Snowpack decreased. Crop productivity in much of the west went down by 5 percent. And that’s not the worst of it, the researchers say. Grasses, plants and trees suck up about 30 percent of our CO2 emissions in North America. In the Northwest, that percentage is even higher.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are raising because of the Heartland’s decimated yields. Correspondent Anna King has this report from central Washington’s grain country.

Wheat stubble, grain elevators and whole lot of wide open – that’s Connell, Washington.

Anna King / Northwest Public Radio

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are going up because of the Heartland’s decimated yields. Meanwhile, many Northwest farmers crops are above average.

The bureau of reclamation is predicting a water shortage in Oregon’s Klamath basin. The federal water agency has asked Klamath farmers to consider idling their land. Amelia Templeton reports.