10% of U.S. under ‘exceptional drought’ conditions

(KGO/CNN) – The U.S. Drought Monitor says nearly 10% of the contiguous nation is under an “exceptional drought.” That’s the highest that rate has been since 2011. Officials say these conditions could lead to threats like large wildfires and small crops.

Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam at its lowest water level in decades. That’s one part of the West Coast attempting to cope with another dry week with above-average temperatures.
Valley Water Board of Directors Vice Chair Gary Kremen said, “We are truly in a dire situation.”

According to the U.S. drought monitor, California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada are entirely under drought conditions.

Kremen said, “Because the entire state, or almost all of the state, is in an exceptional drought, everyone is trying to buy surplus or emergency water, what’s left on the market, but it’s bidding the price up-and-up.”

Forecasters say water shortages and dry earth could result in an intense wildfire season.

San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council Manager Dan Turner said, “Roadside ignition is a very, very common problem. It’s probably one of the highest ignition sources.”

But it’s not just the West Coast dealing with a lack of rain. Some farmers in Wisconsin are forced to use sprinklers for their fields. Farmer Shawn Fideler said, “We do water it, but it evaporates and dries up right away that’s one of the challenges we’ve been having.”

Officials are asking people in drought-affected states to conserve when possible. Kremen said, “If you’re going to water anything outside, just water trees that might die, take shorter showers, fix leaks, etc. We’ve called for 15% mandatory reduction in use and it could get higher.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts the 2021 southwest monsoon season will likely be drier than usual.

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