The Drought in Maps

May 17, 2014

The developing El Nino may bring some drought relief to the southwest, but for now, conditions are dire.

Fully half of the mainland United States is now facing drier-than-usual conditions, with 15 percent of the country experiencing “extreme” to “exceptional” drought.

What’s more, California is facing one of its worst dry spells on record — with every single part of the state now in drought. Dry conditions may be one reason why massive wildfires are now breaking out in California a few weeks earlier than usual. The drought is also hurting the state’s crucial agricultural sector.

The situation is particularly dire in California, which is on track to suffer one of its worst droughts in at least 500 years.

According to the US Drought Monitor, every single part of California is now facing “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought — the first time that’s happened in the monitor’s 15-year history.

What happened? Much of the state was already in drought during 2013, but conditions worsened considerably this year. A blocking ridge of high pressure kept California hot and dry during the normally wet winter. That means there was far less snow falling on the Sierra Nevada mountains — and hence less snow melt providing water during the spring.


The West probably can’t expect much relief anytime soon. The National Weather Service is predicting that drought conditions will persist in the West and southern Plains regions all through the summer.

It’s possible that next winter could be a different story. Right now, it’s looking as if an El Niño is likely to form in the Pacific Ocean later this year — and, historically, El Niño events bring wetter winters to California. Still, this is far from certain, and it depends on the type of El Niño we get.

3 Responses to “The Drought in Maps”

  1. Severe drought in California while Serbia drowns in record floodins.

    The “greatest flooding disaster ever” were the words of the Serbia president.

    More here:

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