The weather around the globe this year has been nothing short of unusual and unprecedented. We are seeing the true results of global warming with the weather this year, having a delayed start to the summer in some places and extreme record heat the next day in others. There has been a far higher number of natural disasters, and each gets progressively worse. Currently, Washington state is facing a drought unlike what they have seen in the past. The state is experiencing dry wells, water use restrictions, salmon migration issues, and possible risks to fish hatcheries.
On Monday morning, the state declared a drought emergency for 12 counties.
Officials are saying that without a doubt the drought will last through the summer and likely go into next year. The drought reaches Benton, Clallam, Columbia, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Skagit, Snohomish, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima counties. Any part of the state outside of these counties is under a drought advisory, as they are at risk of a drought at any time.
The drought was brought on by a variety of factors. The biggest drought-causing issues were the early snowmelt that occurred this year, a lack of rain in the spring, and (also caused by the other two) low stream flows.
Many affected areas are already seeing severe damage because of the drought.
Klickitat County has already seen damages from the drought, having a wildfire start and spread over 50,000 acres just over the weekend. The state’s ecology director has spoken on the very serious implications of these weather patterns. The director, Laura Watson, said that this is a very real hint toward the climate change-affected earth that we will be forced to inhabit soon enough.
By declaring an emergency in these counties, state officials have the power to set water restriction laws for the duration of the emergency declaration. They also have a budget of $3 million that can be distributed to the affected communities to assist with infrastructure and any rebuilding they need to do.
Even counties not under the declared emergency are experiencing water loss. Most places in the state currently have less than three-quarters of their normal water flow. With this low water flow, they are dealing with extreme dry weather and heat, worsening the low water.
The affected drought areas are being advised to severely cut down on their use of water, by cutting lawn watering, limiting shower times, reducing the amount of low clothes count laundry loads, etc. Places not under the emergency order are being advised to reduce their use similarly.