NIDIS and NIHHIS are teaming up to host two webinars on July 21 in collaboration with Federal, Tribal, State, and local partners. The webinars will provide the latest information on current drought, heat, and fire conditions and forecasts, as well as the serious impacts to diverse sectors of the economy and communities throughout the West and Southern Plains. Perspectives from those on the ground who are responding to these worsening drought and heat conditions will be shared.
Nearly 70% of the Western U.S. and Southern Plains are in drought, according to the June 14 U.S. Drought Monitor. But that 70% only tells a portion of the story.
Most of the western U.S., including Southern Montana to northern Mexico and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, is experiencing the region’s driest megadrought in at least 1,200 years. One of the key drivers intensifying this megadrought is climate change, as warmer temperatures are increasing evaporative demand and drying out soil and vegetation. Impacts are severe. Lakes Powell and Mead, along with the Great Salt Lake, are at record low levels; parts of California are facing unprecedented water restrictions; and New Mexico is currently dealing with the two largest wildfires in state history. As temperatures continue to rise over time, impacts are likely to worsen.
Drought has rapidly expanded over the past 9+ months to cover a significant portion of the Southern Plains. This is particularly evident in Texas where dryness and record-setting heat have led to the worst drought conditions since 2012, with major impacts to agriculture.
For more information, contact Adam Lang.