Western US Drought

Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West - The New York Times
Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West – The New York Times

In the year 2022, April has just come around. Spring is in the air, but it’s not quite summertime yet. In most parts of the world, the climate is perfectly normal for early April. It’s April showers time, not drought season. However, in California, there is a long withstanding problem.



The Western states are experiencing a “megadrought,” which is basically a drought that lasts for two or more decades. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 52% of the land area in the West was classified as experiencing extreme or exceptional drought on October 12, 2021. Also, the data indicates that the current drought is more severe than any drought in the region since 2000. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but this megadrought has also broken the record for the driest 22-year period since 800 C.E., which was a whopping 1,200 years ago.


Drought severity in the Western region – U.S. Drought Monitor

When you hear of a “drought,” what would you think of? Most people would think of dry and hot deserts, dark-skinned people covered in sand, dry wells, etc. But other than the obvious (less water for everyone), there are other impacts.

The area that is affected a lot is probably agriculture. Many farms rely on rainfall to grow their crops, meaning that during a drought, their crops will be scarce or ruined. There is also less snowfall, less snowpack (an accumulation of snow as a reserve), and less streamflow (flowing water).

This affects the local, regional, and national economies in something like a ripple. Farm income decreases, while food prices increase. Anyone could tell that that increase/decrease relationship is not good.



Many studies show that this drought was very likely to be caused by climate change, and climate change is caused by humans, so everything comes back to us. Unfortunately, this drought is likely to continue for at least another year.

“Climate change is changing the baseline conditions toward a drier, gradually drier state in the West and that means the worst-case scenario keeps getting worse,” Park Williams, a climate hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says. “This is right in line with what people were thinking of in the 1900s as a worst-case scenario. But today I think we need to be even preparing for conditions in the future that are far worse than this.”

Everywhere, things are at new lows. More and more people are starting to get affected in the Western region, but there’s nothing we can really do but try to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.


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