The western United States has suffered under varying degrees of drought for a few years. Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist and author of the U.S. Drought Monitor, says there has been at least some relief in the West …
RIPPEY … “We've seen targeted relief this spring in the West, mainly across the northern tier, so from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Rockies, it's been a relatively cool, wet spring. So those mountain areas have been able to retain snow cover for a considerably longer period than usual, so we have above-average snowpack now in much of the Northwest. That should help, in terms of reservoirs, being able to retain slower snowmelt this spring across the northern tier of the West.”
However, despite some recent moisture, Rippey says there’s
plenty of drought remaining in the Southwest …
RIPPEY … “Once you go from California eastward to the
southern Rockies, things keep getting worse. Three-year drought for much of that region, now, we've had a lot of early-season wildfires, a symptom reflecting how serious the drought situation is in much of the Southwest. The West is kind of a split situation, too. We've got a drought recovery happening in the northern tier but worsening drought as you move to the southern half of the region.”
It’s the third year that La Niña has impacted U.S. weather, and Rippey says that means more drought in the West and less in the eastern U.S.
The big story, potentially, heading into this third year of La Nina would be a summer of heat and generally dry conditions across the western half of the country.