Monterey County Farm Bureau

Drought Monitor

Another week of hot, dry weather once again led to worsening drought conditions across the Northwest. Temperatures as high as 17 degrees above normal set more high temperature records across the region. The excess heat continued to increase evaporative demand, dry out soils and vegetation, and strain water resources. Many areas in the Northwest saw degradations and pacts across the region continue to build. In Oregon, where drought intensified and expanded across severe drought (D2) to exceptional drought (D4) levels, soil moisture, streamflow, and the SPEI (a drought monitoring indicator that includes the effects of precipitation and temperature) show conditions are among the driest going back to 1895. Dryland agriculture is suffering and fire risk has escalated. In Washington, abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) expanded. With nearly all of the state experiencing dryness or drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS) reports as of July 4 that 84% of the state’s topsoil moisture is short to very short, significantly impacting forage production. The data show that the state’s rangeland and pasture conditions are far worse this year when compared to all other years this century. In Idaho, which saw expansions in D1-D3 drought categories, the state drought monitoring team noted that the Big Lost River is almost out of storage and priority water use is limited to early 1884 priorities. The team also reported significant agricultural impacts to the state, including crop loss, a lack of forage, and animal deaths. Montana, which saw D1-D4 expansion, recorded less than 25% of normal precipitation in June, which is historically the highest precipitation month. Impacts include diminished forage production and infestations of grasshoppers. Much of the Southwest remained unchanged this week. Where precipitation fell, such as in Arizona, it generally wasn’t enough to improve impacts. In places where it didn’t, conditions already are at D4 or don’t yet warrant additional degradations. The only exception was eastern New Mexico, where heavy rains (about 3 to 8 inches) over the past six to 10 days began to make a dent in the long-term drought, while also contributing to flash floods in the area. According to the Albuquerque National Weather Service, water levels at Santa Rosa Lake have risen over a foot since July 1.

As a comparison, below is the Drought Monitor Map from the high-point of the four-year drought:

Updated 7/8/2021