Story at a glance
- States across the country are adapting to higher average temperatures and drought conditions.
- Dried up lakes and water shortages spell concern for the agricultural industry and human health.
- Seasonal weather conditions may offer a respite for some regions with histories of drier conditions.
Over 87 million Americans are currently residing in regions under a drought, with the majority of people concentrated in the southern and western parts of the country.
In Nevada, water levels of Lake Mead have fallen to their lowest point in 80 years and in Texas, the city of Houston is asking residents to voluntarily conserve water.
Despite these severe conditions, cooler and wetter weather in the upper Midwest along with rainfall in the high plains region offers some hope for parched land and residents.
In addition, storms and below-normal temperatures have swept the Pacific Northwest and northern plains in recent months, easing projections of water deficits anticipated for that region.
In Washington, rains throughout the spring helped prevent drier conditions in western parts of the state. A combination of La Niña and an active Atlantic hurricane season may also spell relief for the Midwest later this summer.
However, some regions did creep into “abnormally dry” conditions this week, according to the U.S. drought monitor, including Ohio Valley, and parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
High winds in Colorado and Wyoming exacerbated conditions in those regions, while extreme drought conditions expanded in central Nevada and parts of New Mexico.
Apart from the contiguous United States, parts of Alaska and Hawaii are also experiencing drought conditions. In Alaska, severe drought conditions have returned for the first time since 2019 and several days of rainfall will be needed to improve conditions in the state, local media report. Droughts can also exacerbate wildfires in the state, which have already burned upwards of 900,000 acres.
In Hawaii, ranchers and farmers are working to adapt to the dry heat through water conservation efforts and combatting insect infestation.
Puerto Rico is also experiencing some drought conditions, and the majority of the island is classified as being under “moderate drought.”
Published on Jun. 22, 2022