Washington state is gearing up for what may be its worst drought since 1971.
With record low leveled snowpacks, Governor Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency in three of Washington’s regions, which make up about 44 percent of the states area, on April 17 2015.
Due to higher than usual temperatures during the 2014-2015 winter, snowpacks fell dramatically, which will lead to low snowmelt and shallower than usual rivers this spring and summer.
According to King 5 News “…the snowpack is 7% of normal in the Olympics. It’s between 8% and 45% of normal in the Cascades and about 67 percent around Walla Walla. More than half of the state’s watersheds are expected to receive less than 75 percent of their normal water supplies. Because most of the precipitation has fallen as rain this winter, there is not enough snow to slowly feed the state’s rivers this summer.”
At Livescience.com, researchers explained the effects of the upcoming drought by saying “As the climate warms, many areas that were dry become drier, and some that were wet become wetter… A lengthy drought will cause a big dieback of the evergreen forests that are familiar to hikers and skiers, bringing in vegetation that will likely more resemble a desert scrubland…”
Washington is not the only state facing problems with drought this year. Every state in the west will be facing some amount of drought, most severely in California, Oregon, Nevada and Oklahoma.
The Department of Ecology has recently asked the Washington state legislature for $9 million for drought relief. If received, the money would be allocated for agricultural and fishery projects, emergency water-right permits and changes to existing water-rights.