Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer of drought is shaping up to be as bad as predicted

by Dan Partridge, communications manager, Water Resources Program

Federal monitors now consider one third (dark brown) 
of Washington state to be in moderate or severe drought
Less than a week into it, our summer is shaping up to be as bad as predicted for drought conditions.

Record-breaking temperatures are expected this weekend and into next week: 100 to 108 degrees in Central Washington, same for the Spokane area and in Western Washington the upper 80s and low 90s. Statewide, the record temperature for the month of June is 75 degrees set in 1992. A spokesman for the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts “we are going to be well above that” when the high temperature is calculated for the month.      

River and stream flows at record lows

Since May 15 when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought, the below-normal snowpack we had in the mountains melted a month early. As of  June 29 -- without our normal run-off from the
–  78 percent of our rivers and streams are running at below normal flows; 38 percent of those are at record-low flows.

The high temperatures that have increased the demand for water needed for crops and communities are expected to continue through the summer and the fall and so is the lack of rain.

Washington farmers facing drought losses eligible for federal loans   
The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) now classifies one-third of Washington as being in a severe state of drought. The Cascades have been reclassified from “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought.” The classifications guide the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in declaring natural disaster areas, which was done this week in 18 Washington counties. Farmers in those counties are now eligible for low-interest emergency federal loans that will help them defray the costs of damage to their crops and property from the drought.

Low flows in our rivers and streams have several hundred irrigators in north-central and eastern Washington facing water cutoffs far earlier than normal, and the fate of our request for drought relief funds awaits action from the Legislature.

Dry lightning, fire warnings for western Washington     
The National Weather Service has expanded its fire weather warnings for Washington state because the dry conditions we’re seeing this month normally don’t occur until August. Dry lightning is expected in western Washington this weekend and the state Department of Natural Resources has issued a statewide burn ban that will be in effect until Sept. 30, 2015.

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