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We select interesting and representative drought stories from all over the U.S. and around the world. We group them into the same categories that the Drought Impact Reporter uses, as well as a few others.

Agriculture


East Texas Ag News: Hay prices remain firm this week

KTRE-TV ABC 9 (Pollok, Texas), 3-5-2021

Affected Area: Texas

Dry conditions through the 2020 growing season in Texas limited overall yields, and recent cold weather forced producers to feed more.  Forages in most of the state were becoming scarcer as a lot of hay comes from drought-affected areas in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.


Barring ‘miracle,’ farm water will be in short supply

AgAlert (Sacramento, Calif.), 3-3-2021

Affected Area: California

California farmers were responding to the meager allocation announcements and were planning accordingly.  In the Huron area, one farmer decided that he will not plant land where he lacks a contract for crops.  A Los Banos area farmer will plant fewer acres of annual crops and enact conservation measures like deficit irrigation of alfalfa and cut wheat early for silage.


U.S. Wheat Associates market analysis: Wheat condition compromised by tough winter

Ag Journal (La Junta, Colo.), 3-3-2021

Affected Area: Central Plains

The 2021 winter has been difficult for wheat in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado as historically low temperatures and drought jeopardized new crop yield potential.  In the Great Plains, sustained temperatures below 10 degrees were low enough long enough to cause serious concern about the crop’s ability to survive dormancy.


Winterkill in Wheat: Jury Still Out After Historic Cold Front

DTN - The Progressive Farmer (Burnsville, Minn.), 2-25-2021

Affected Area: Southern Great Plains

Winter wheat conditions were already deteriorating prior to the arctic temperatures, due to drought.  Oklahoma's current USDA crop condition rating of 48% good to excellent fell 13 points since January. Kansas wheat, which endured temperatures as low as -19 degrees, was ranked at just 40% good to excellent, down 5 points from last year. Nebraska wheat conditions fell drastically, with only 30% rated good to excellent, down from 70% last year.  Soil moisture was very low in Texas, which may have led to damage to more developed wheat.

Late emerging fields, due to lack of soil moisture in the fall, may be less developed and less able to withstand the cold.  Such fields probably account for about 40% of wheat fields in north-central Kansas and 20% to 30% in western Kansas, estimated a wheat and forage Extension specialist with Kansas State University.


Red alert sounding on California drought, as Valley gets grim news about water supply

The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), 2-23-2021

Affected Area: California

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial allocation of 5% for the Central Valley Project.  The figure will be updated if more rain and snow fall to increase the allocation.  The CVP serves farm irrigation districts in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

In December, the State Water Project announced an initial allocation of 10%.


Business & Industry


Utah’s drought causing local company to rely on other sources of revenue

ABC 4 (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2-2-2021

Affected Area: Utah

The lack of snow in the Salt Lake City area has slashed a landscaping business’ winter revenue by 25 percent because there were few snow removals needed as this winter was on track to be one of the driest on record.


Florida halts oyster harvesting near Apalachicola for five years

Tampa Bay Times (Fla.), 12-17-2020

Affected Area: Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the suspension of wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay for five years to allow the bay’s collapsed fishery to recover from drought, overharvesting and, in the opinion of Florida officials, excessive water use by Georgia.


Some Areas Along the Mississippi River Need a Tall Drink of Water

DTN The Progressive Farmer (Burnsville, Minn.), 10-5-2020

Affected Area: Mississippi River

The level of the Mississippi River has been falling during the past few months.  South of St. Louis, barge drafts of 12 feet were the norm, but Ceres Barge Line opted to cut their drafts to 10 feet, 6 inches as of Oct. 1.  The change will cost shippers more money as it will require more barges to transport the same amount of grain downriver.


Company drills deeper wells as drought continues in NH

WMUR-TV ABC 9 Manchester (N.H.), 9-14-2020

Affected Area: New Hampshire

As New Hampshire’s drought persisted, more homeowners were finding that their wells had run dry.  One well drilling company had more than 100 customers on a waiting list, needing a bedrock well drilled to restore the water supply for homes.  Such wells often cost $10,000 to $12,000.


Dry weather stokes Athens recreation center progress

ENewsCourier.com (Athens, Ala.), 10-12-2019

Affected Area: Athens, Alabama

The absence of rain has allowed the construction of the new Athens Recreation Center to continue slightly ahead of schedule without rain delays.  The facility was originally intended to open in May 2020, but should be ready in April 2020.


Energy


Less water for Sakakawea

Minot Daily News (N.D.), 10-7-2020

Affected Area: North Dakota

As precipitation remained well below normal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again lowered the projected Feb. 28, 2021 water level for Lake Sakakawea, for the fourth consecutive month of declining water level projections.  While projections have been lower recently, the latest projection of 30.2 million acre-feet of water remains 117 percent of the 25.8 maf of average for the upper Missouri River Basin. 

Six mainstem power plants generated 875 million kilowatts of electricity in September, down from the average of 905 million kWh.


Decline in hydropower hampered by drought will impact utility costs

The San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), 8-10-2020

Affected Area: California

The 2012-16 drought in California reduced water supplies, which led to a decrease in hydropower production.  The loss in electricity generation cost PG&E and other California utilities roughly $5.5 billion, according to a study done by researchers at North Carolina State University.  Much of the shortfall in hydropower production was made up by natural gas, a more expensive form of energy production.  The lost hydropower production cost utilities $1.5 billion and the higher demand for electricity amounted to nearly $4 billion.


Southeast Alaska hydro lakes nearing spill level

KFSK (Petersburg, Alaska), 7-23-2020

Affected Area: Alaska

Southeast Alaska’s wet summer has nearly refilled hydroelectric reservoirs that were depleted by drought beginning in 2017.  Since then, the communities of Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan have relied on diesel power while hydropower was not available.  Diesel power is more expensive, negatively impacting revenue for the Southeast Alaska Power Agency.  Swan Lake near Ketchikan and Tyee Lake near Wrangell may be able to spill later this week if the rain continues.


Southern half of New Hampshire in moderate drought

Seacoast Online (Portsmouth, N.H.), 6-25-2020

Affected Area: New Hampshire

As lake levels fall in New Hampshire, dam releases were reduced to a minimum, meaning many small hydropower projects on the state’s tributary rivers were no longer able to generate power.  Larger hydropower projects on the main stem rivers, such as the Merrimack and Connecticut, were still operating.

Ninety-four water systems had implemented water restrictions.


Despite recent drought, southern Southeast’s wholesale power provider won’t raise rates — yet

KRBD-FM 103.5 Community Radio (Ketchikan, Alaska), 12-16-2019

Affected Area: Southeast Alaska

The Southeast Alaska Power Agency sold less power during the past two years as drought reduced hydropower production, forcing communities to rely on polluting, expensive diesel power.  Whereas revenues typically range from $10 million to $12 million annually, in the past year, it was a little more than $9 million.


Fire


Wildfire Season Is Here, Help Prevent Unwanted Fires

NewsDakota.com (Valley City, N.D.), 3-2-2021

Affected Area: North Dakota

Dry, warm conditions brought an early start to the wildfire season in North Dakota.  Numerous counties had burn bans, including Dunn, Golden Valley, Mercer, Oliver and Stutsman.  Severe drought affected 68% of the state, an increase of 10% from two weeks ago.


Arizona wildfire officials say another year of ‘large fires’ possible

KOLD (Tucson, Ariz.), 2-26-2021

Affected Area: Arizona

Firefighters in southern Arizona have already begun battling wildfires in recent days, increasing worries about the upcoming fire season.  Severe drought conditions continue after last summer’s nearly absent monsoon.


Wyo. meteorologists hope for more snow to mitigate drought, wildfire potential

Wyoming News (Cheyenne), 2-18-2021

Affected Area: Wyoming

Drought conditions in Wyoming could lead to an active wildfire season, warned a warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS’s Riverton office.  This is the worst drought since 2012-13, during which about 500,000 acres burned and cost $100 million to contain.


2020 Colorado wildfires were historic and concerns remain for 2021 fire danger

KOAA News (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1-14-2021

Affected Area: Colorado

Concern for the 2021 fire season in Colorado was rising as bountiful snow was needed, but not expected, amid a La Niña winter.  The dry conditions, combined with invasive insects like bark beetles, continued to kill trees and create more fuel.


Maine has seen more than 1,000 wildfires this year, driven by drought and pandemic

Bangor Daily News (Maine), 12-10-2020

Affected Area: Maine

Maine’s annual wildfire total in 2020 was the highest in 35 years as 1,150 fires burned 1,030 acres.  Many of the fires stemmed from campfires that spread or were not properly extinguished.  The state’s chief forest ranger blamed drought for being the dominant factor in the increased wildfire activity.


General Awareness


Persistent dryness in the West is exacerbating region's 'megadrought'

USA Today, 3-4-2021

Affected Area: Western U.S.

Ninety percent of the West was either abnormally dry or in drought, for one of the highest percentages in the past 20 years.

"By definition, we are approaching what is defined as a megadrought, where conditions have been that way for at least two decades," said climatologist Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center.


Recent snowstorms are barely scratching the surface of Colorado’s ongoing drought

The Colorado Sun (Denver), 3-4-2021

Affected Area: Colorado

A combination of factors, including early snowmelt in 2020, a disappointing monsoon, a warm dry fall and below normal winter snowpack left 98.57% of Colorado in drought.  The state activated the agricultural and municipal parts of its drought contingency plan in 2020.


California's Wet Season Hasn't Brought Much Drought Relief and the Outlook Isn't Promising

The Weather Channel (Atlanta, Ga.), 2-22-2021

Affected Area: California

Precipitation in California since the start of the water year on Oct. 1 has been considerably lower than normal, allowing drought to expand across the state.  Some cities received less than half of their normal precipitation since Oct. 1, including San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. 

A late January storm deepened the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, but snow water equivalents have since decreased, according to the California Department of Water Resources.


February snow slowly reduces drought in Colorado

KOAA News (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2-19-2021

Affected Area: Colorado

Several snow storms brought enough powder to ease drought in parts of Colorado, but more moisture is needed to ease the entrenched drought conditions.


Powerful storm eased drought in parts of California

Associated Press, 2-4-2021

Affected Area: California

The late January storm improved drought conditions in large swathes of California.  The second Sierra snowpack survey revealed that the water content was 70 percent of average to date and 45 percent of the April 1 average.


International


Country received only 25 percent of normal rainfall this winter

The Kathmandu Post (Nepal), 3-5-2021

Affected Area: Nepal

Total rainfall in Nepal was 25% of normal this winter, following a dry post-monsoon season in October and November, when rainfall was 25.6% of average.


Drought hits 1.3M households in Taiwan

The Manila Times (Philippines), 3-5-2021

Affected Area: Taiwan

Lingering drought meant roughly 1.34 million homes in central and northern Taiwan were likely to experience reduced water pressure at the tap as a water conservation measure.


Tunisia Urges Prayers for Rain as Fears of Drought Stalk Economy

Bloomberg, 3-4-2021

Affected Area: Tunisia

Citizens of Tunisia are urged to pray for rain as worries increase about a second year of drought in parts of North Africa.  A dry stretch from January through mid-March 2020 in Tunisia slashed the grain harvest by 35%, leading to import about a third more grain than usual.  Algeria has been dry since mid-January.


Auckland in 'slow recovery' from drought following dry summer

Stuff.co.nz (New Zealand), 3-1-2021

Affected Area: New Zealand

Auckland was slowly recovering from drought in 2020, the worst drought in its history, after a dry December and January.  Reservoirs in the Hunua and Waitakere ranges were at 58% capacity as of March 1, which is 23% below normal levels.


Crimea's resort of Alushta switching to 10-hour water rationing due to water shortage

Interfax (London), 2-25-2021

Affected Area: Crimea

Severe drought on the Crimean Peninsula meant water rationing for the resort town of Alushta with water being available ten hours per day.  The cities of Simferopol and Yalta have been rationing water for months.


Mitigation


In the Sierra, scientists bet on ‘survivor’ trees to withstand drought and climate change

The San Diego Union-Tribune (Calif.), 11-18-2019

Affected Area: Sierra Nevada, California

In the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe, drought, bark beetles and climate change have killed many sugar pines, but some have withstood the siege.  Scientists were planting thousands of seedlings descended from the surviving trees, hoping that they possess genes that allow them to endure adverse conditions.


Bozeman increases water rates, prepares for drought

Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Mont.), 8-21-2019

Affected Area: Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman commissioners approved a water rate increase with the goal of reducing waste during drought. Additional fees will also be implemented if a drought is declared to curb water use. The more water used and the higher the drought stage, the higher water rates will be.


Drought watch -- 'We've managed it': Roza farmers finding ways to survive water shortage

Yakima Herald (Wash.), 7-31-2019

Affected Area: Washington State

Farmers in the Roza Irrigation District have found ways to be more efficient with the water supplies they got, given the 67 percent allocation, due to the drought emergency.  Many use drip irrigation systems.  Some farmers coordinated their water use to avoid fluctuations in canal levels that might cause others to lose water access for a while.  Another farmer selected his crops so that they do not all need water at the same time during the growing season.


As Drought Increases, Wyoming Pursues Dams And Cloud Seeding Projects

Wyoming Public Media (Laramie, Wyo.), 1-9-2019

Affected Area: Wyoming

Wyoming lawmakers were preparing for drought by looking at the potential construction of a West Fork dam project in southern Carbon County, the expansion of Big Sandy Reservoir in western Wyoming, as well as cloud-seeding in two mountain ranges on the Wyoming-Colorado border to increase rainfall.


Fire officials: Decision to close forests during the wildfire season paid off

Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com & KPNX-TV NBC 12 Phoenix, 10-4-2018

Affected Area: Arizona

Arizona fire officials felt good about their decision to close state and federal forests starting in May when the fire danger was unusually high, due to an historically dry winter, intense drought and an abundance of dry grasses ready to burn.  In 2018, only 156,317 acres of state land burned, compared to 412,746 acres in 2017.  Forests reopened in July after the monsoon season began.


Plants & Wildlife


Colorado bark beetles spread to new areas, new aerial study shows

FOX21News.com (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2-18-2021

Affected Area: Colorado

Spruce beetles continued to devastate Colorado’s trees in 2020 as severe drought weakened the trees and aided the spread of beetle infestations, which affect about 80 percent of state forests.  The beetle-killed trees provide more fuel for wildfires, according to foresters.


'Devastating': Excessive Drought And Heat Put Squeeze On Arizona's Desert Plant Life

KJZZ (Tempe, Ariz.), 2-16-2021

Affected Area: Arizona

Drought and heat killed many saguaro cacti at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden last summer, with some of the saguaros thought to be 100 years old.  The 2020 monsoon brought little rain, and temperatures remained above 90 degrees many nights, giving the cacti no reprieve.  Agaves suffered and perished too.


Volunteers Bring Water To Wildlife In Midst Of Severe Drought

KNAU Arizona Public Radio (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 1-22-2021

Affected Area: Arizona

Members of the Arizona Elk Society, a wildlife conservation organization, have been caring for wildlife by refilling natural ponds and stock tanks as many have gone dry amid the intense drought.


Millions of migratory birds flock to Central Texas due to drought

KXAN.com (Austin, Texas), 1-21-2021

Affected Area: Texas

Drought limited the production of Ashe Juniper berries in the Southwest.  The American Robin, or Turdus Migratorius, prefers Ashe Juniper berries and migrated to central Texas, where the berries could be found.


Drought causing issues for Durango’s fish hatchery

The Journal (Cortez, Colo.), 1-14-2021

Affected Area: Colorado

The low flow of the Animas River prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s fish hatchery in Durango to stock roughly 28,000 mature rainbow trout early.  While the flow of the Animas River would typically be 1,000 gallons per minute, only 700 gallons per minute were flowing through the hatchery, due to drought.  The hatchery was at peak capacity, holding about one million fish.


Relief, Response, & Restrictions


Drought is officially a distant memory in RI

The Providence Journal (R.I.), 2-12-2021

Affected Area: Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo lifted the drought advisory issued on Sept. 17 as the state’s Drought Advisory Committee concluded on Feb. 9 that conditions warranted lifting the advisory.  Precipitation and groundwater levels have returned to normal statewide.


Utah 'behind the times' and needs watchdog to guard interest in Colorado River, official says

KSL.com (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2-10-2021

Affected Area: Utah

Utah officials were considering the creation of a new entity to protect Utah’s share of the Colorado River.  The Colorado River Amendments, HB297, would set up the Colorado River Authority of Utah with $9 million in one-time money and $600,000 of ongoing money.  Other states in the Colorado River basin have similar entities to protect their interests in the river.  Some critics of the bill voiced their opposition.


DEP Lifts Drought Watch for Centre, Clearfield, and Clinton Counties, Announces Hydrologic Conditions Normal State-wide

Gant News (Clearfield, Pa.), 2-4-2021

Affected Area: Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection allowed three counties—Centre, Clearfield, and Clinton—to return to normal status.  Hydrologic conditions were deemed normal statewide.


Drought, Wildfire Threat Lead to Disaster Declaration in Texas

Insurance Journal (San Diego, Calif.), 2-3-2021

Affected Area: Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for numerous west and southwest Texas counties as exceptional drought and wildfire threat jeopardized public health, property and the economy.


Gov. Ige Declares Maui County a Disaster Area Due to Drought Since March 2019

Maui Now (Wailuku, Hawaii), 1-27-2021

Affected Area: Hawaii

Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Jan. 27 declaring the County of Maui, which has endured drought conditions since March 2019, a disaster area.  The proclamation allows the state to provide relief from disaster damages, losses, suffering caused by disaster, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people.


Research


Ancient people may have survived desert droughts by melting ice in lava tubes

Science News (Washington, D.C.), 12-8-2020

Affected Area: New Mexico

Research into ice cores at El Malpais National Monument in western New Mexico indicated that ancestral Puebloans used fire to melt ice from lava tubes during drought.


Dust Bowl 2.0? Rising Great Plains dust levels stir concerns

Science Magazine, 10-20-2020

Affected Area: Great Plains

Dust storms on the Great Plains have become more frequent and more intense in the past 20 years, due to more frequent drought and the expansion of croplands.  Research from the University of Utah indicates that the region may be nearing a tipping point at which Dust Bowl conditions could return.


One-Two Punch

The University of California Santa Barbara Current, 10-12-2020

Affected Area:

Repeated droughts are generally increasingly detrimental to forests, found researchers from UC Santa Barbara, who noted two clear findings.  Firstly, trees seem to become more vulnerable to stress after multiple droughts.  Secondly, conifers have different vascular systems than broadleaf trees, and conifers may sustain more damage in an initial drought and be less able to withstand subsequent droughts, compared to broadleaf trees.


Could Twitter help Utah track drought conditions?

KSL.com (Salt Lake City, Utah), 10-11-2020

Affected Area:

Utah State University researchers were gathering information from Twitter to monitor drought using a ‘sentiment analyzer’ model and found it to be useful.  The drought tracker could fill in gaps between traditional weather stations and give researchers a more immediate picture of drought conditions.


Stanford researchers identify ‘landfalling droughts’ that originate over ocean

YubaNet (Calif.), 9-24-2020

Affected Area:

Researchers have identified a new kind of “landfalling drought” that begins over the ocean before moving onto land, and which can cause larger, drier conditions than other droughts.


Society & Public Health


Drought restrictions had side benefit: Lowering risk of mosquito-borne disease

UCLA Newsroom (Calif.), 2-16-2021

Affected Area: California

Water restrictions in California, which limited lawn watering, also reduced the number of shallow pools of water on lawns, thereby reducing spread of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, according to research from UCLA and three other universities.  The number of mosquitoes was reduced by 44 percent in Los Angeles County and 39 percent in Orange County, thanks to the water restrictions, which extended from 2012 through 2016 amid the statewide drought.


On Edge: In a rural Eastern Plains community plagued by drought, stigma won’t be easy to overcome

The Colorado Sun (Denver), 12-6-2020

Affected Area: Colorado

The Kiowa County D4 splotch has taken a toll on the mental health of the people residing within its bounds.  Crops hardly grew higher than work boots, bindweed stopped growing, and rain clouds passed by without offering any relief.


Cases of tickborne diseases down so far this year

News Center Maine (Portland), 10-26-2020

Affected Area: Maine

Fewer cases of tick-borne illnesses were reported in Maine this year as drought led to less tick activity.  Just 822 cases of Lyme disease were recorded in Maine, compared to more than 2,000 cases in 2019.  Two other tick-borne illnesses, anaplasmosis and babesiosis, were also low, with only 401 cases, in comparison with 823 cases in 2019.


Mainers see fewer bugs thanks to dry summer

WMTW Portland (Maine), 9-14-2020

Affected Area: Maine

The preliminary count of cases of Lyme disease through Sept. 7 was 626, far below the 2,167 cases reported in 2019.  There were similarly fewer cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis, also tick-borne diseases.  Fewer mosquitoes were caught in traps over the summer.

Other parts of New England, such as Vermont and New Hampshire, were also finding fewer ticks and mosquitoes. In Vermont, insect counts were down about 42 percent, compared to 2019.  No cases of West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis were reported in Maine or Vermont so far in 2020.


Trees dead from 2011 drought now pose falling danger

KLTV ABC (Tyler, Texas), 7-28-2020

Affected Area: Texas

East Texas trees killed by drought in 2011 were dropping branches, taking down power lines and causing property damage.


Tourism & Recreation


Drought complicates operations at New Mexico ski areas

KOB (Albuquerque, N.M.), 1-11-2021

Affected Area: New Mexico

Much of Ski Santa Fe’s terrain was still closed, due to lack of snow.  The stream that supplies water for snowmaking was flowing slowly and not providing enough to make much snow.


Drought Conditions Forcing Backcountry Closure At Guadalupe Mountains National Park

National Parks Traveler (Park City, Utah), 12-18-2020

Affected Area: Texas

The backcountry area around Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park was closed from Dec. 20 through Jan. 4, due to continued drought.  Resource damage and illegal fire violations were occurring at backcountry sites, prompting park authorities to close the area to backcountry camping.  Fire restrictions took effect in the park on Nov. 18.


Ski areas desperately need snow as drought intensifies in Summit County

Summit Daily (Frisco, Colo.), 12-14-2020

Affected Area: Colorado

While the Upper Colorado River Basin was at 70 percent of its normal snow water equivalent, other locations in western Colorado were not faring as well.  The warm, dry autumn has made it difficult for ski areas to open additional terrain with artificial or natural snow.


Pheasant Hunting Underway In Iowa

Raccoon Valley Radio (Perry, Iowa), 11-3-2020

Affected Area: Iowa

Pheasant counts were up 18 percent across Iowa, but counts were 8 percent lower in the parched west central region of the state.


DNR: Fall trout stockings will begin Oct. 19 despite low water

Herald (Hagerstown, Md.), 10-18-2020

Affected Area: West Virginia

Some West Virginia streams were too low to be stocked with fish, leading the state Division of Natural Resources stocking crews to focus more on stocking lakes this fall.


Water Supply & Quality


Maine river conditions mean drought may continue, but flood risk is low

MaineBiz (Portland, Maine), 3-5-2021

Affected Area: Maine

The Maine River Flow Advisory Commission met on March 4 and determined that the state could be headed toward another drought as stream flow and groundwater conditions were low to below normal.


Drought May Impact Missouri River Releases

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan (S.D.), 3-4-2021

Affected Area: Missouri River Basin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may consider water conservation measures in the Missouri River Basin later in the year if dry conditions persist or worsen.  Reservoir storage in early March was very good in terms of flood control and flow support for navigation, but February runoff in the upper Basin was 0.8 million acre-feet, 70% of average. The 2021 calendar year runoff forecast for the upper Basin is 21.8 MAF, 84% of average.  Snowpack on the plains is nearly non-existent, particularly in Montana and the Dakotas, and soils are extremely dry.


Sierra snowpack at 61% as new drought looms for California this summer

The Mercury News (Calif.), 3-2-2021

Affected Area: California

The most recent snow survey at Phillips Station revealed 61% of the historical average as California endures its second consecutive dry winter.  Many water agencies were expected to make decisions on needed water conservation measures in late March or early April.


Utah's 2020 Drought Likely To Impact Water Supply This Year

Utah Public Radio (Logan, Utah), 3-1-2021

Affected Area: Utah

Extremely low soil moisture in Utah is expected to reduce runoff to well below average, even if the snowpack were to reach normal by early April.  Streamflow in most of Utah is below normal.  Based on the current conditions at Lake Powell, the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center is predicting the driest flow on record in April.


North Dakota’s drought stretches from border to border

Minot Daily News (N.D.), 2-26-2021

Affected Area: North Dakota

The Souris River, which loops down into North Dakota from Canada, has had little or no flow for several months.  Lake Darling, northwest of Minot, was at 1,595.42 feet, more than a half foot below its winter operating level and will not likely achieve 1,597 feet, the preferred summer operating level.