July 13 U.S. Drought Update

The West is on fire. Dozens of large wildfires are currently burning, and Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Reno, and Salt Lake City have broken high-temperature records (116 degrees in Phoenix on Friday, July 7). Drought-stricken areas in eastern Montana and the Dakotas got no relief. Elsewhere, rain deficits led to expansion of areas of moderate drought in Iowa, while the East remained drought-free.

Abnormally dry areas in Long Island expanded. Elsewhere in the Northeast, only Maine received significant rainfall, with accumulations of 3 to 6 inches. Northern Virginia and Maryland got 2 to 5 inches, reducing their areas of abnormal dryness, and northeastern North Carolina saw locally heavy rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches.

The region remained drought-free, despite relatively light rainfall accumulations.

In the eastern panhandle of Texas, improvements were made in areas of severe drought. Areas of moderate drought in the Hill Country also improved. However, areas of abnormal dryness and moderate drought expanded in the south Texas plains.

Conditions in southern and northwestern Iowa worsened somewhat this week, and new abnormally dry areas were introduced in southeastern Iowa, central Illinois, and western Minnesota. Some areas of west-central Illinois, northern Indiana, and northern Ohio received 2 to 4 inches of rain.

Areas of moderate drought, severe drought, and extreme drought expanded across eastern Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Precipitation has been above normal in Oklahoma, leading to some minor improvements in areas of abnormal dryness and moderate drought, but areas of moderate drought expanded in the central and western portions of the state.

Record-breaking high temperatures were reported from Phoenix to Boise during the weekend. Monsoon season in the Southwest has gotten off to a slow start. In central Arizona, a new area of moderate drought was added. In central Utah, an area of moderate drought was introduced, and areas of abnormal dryness were expanded across southwestern Utah. In western Colorado, short-term precipitation deficits and dry soils led to expansion of areas of abnormal dryness.

Looking ahead

Portions of the Southwest and Central Rockies could see moderate precipitation accumulations (1 to 3 inches), while the remainder of the West will continue to be dry. Much of the eastern U.S. is expected to receive accumulations ranging 1 to 3 inches. In the Midwest, widespread accumulations of 1 to 2.5 inches are expected across eastern and northern portions of the region. Forecasters are warning that more wildfires could start in the West, as temperatures reach above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and dry conditions persist.

Drought occurs periodically across the nation and can cause devastation for crops, residents, and wildlife—even if it's only temporary. Other parts of the nation, such as California and, more recently, the South, are plagued by drought. Long-term drought impacts the economy, agriculture, and the daily lives of residents. These conditions also increase the risks and devastation from wildfires. In such desperate conditions, community and state leaders have implemented plans to conserve water and replenish natural sources through desalination, rationing, recycling, reusing, and even purchasing water from other locations. Water rationing for both residents and businesses disrupts productivity and the local economy. Manufacturers are turning to self-sustained methods for maintaining production capacity, such as zero liquid discharge (ZLD) and water reuse systems for their process water. Residents are required to limit watering, swap out foliage for drought-resistant plants, and more.

Data retrieved from United States Drought Monitor.

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