‘Drought’ Doesn’t Cover It Anymore

Feb 22, 2022

The American West is enduring its worst drought in 1,200 years (that’s not a typo).

A series of record-breaking winter storms gave many high hopes that the drought’s end was in sight. But January and February have still been drier than any others in California’s recorded history.

Western states are on a precipitation pendulum, swinging from record-breaking weather events to record-breaking dry months. From the Sierra Nevada to Denver, snow isn’t showing up when expected. Experts say La Niña is to blame for lower than normal rainfall in the Southwest.

Past parched: Water experts are now saying that “drought” may not cover the current situation. “Aridification” may be the updated lingo for experts who are wondering how temporary the mega-drought of the last 22 years really is.

Not just the Golden State:  After February started drier than the heart of a haystack, the drought monitor shows worsening conditions in many regions. 32% of U.S. corn areas and 72% of wheat areas are experiencing some sort of drought, both big increases over 2021.

Where this goes: Water curtailments may be back on the table in California. The state’s Water Resources Control Board is preparing for the worst-case water scenario. Some good news, though: the recent infrastructure law will provide $1.66B per year for the next five years for water-related projects.