NewsCalifornia Drought

Actions

Portion of Kern County Desert now classified as "worst" drought status

Ridgecrest region now in "Exceptional Drought"
Drought Status as of May 13, 2021
Drought D3 Status Compared to Drought D4 Status
Posted at 7:33 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 18:47:31-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Report released Thursday morning shows the drought status in Kern County getting worse for the second consecutive week.

A portion of the Mojave Desert, specifically near Ridgecrest, is now classified as "Exceptional Drought", the worst status on the list.

That classification of D4 means: "Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yields are low; honey harvest is small. Fire season is very costly; number of fires and area burned are extensive. Many recreational activities are affected. Fish rescue and relocation begins; pine beetle infestation occurs; forest mortality is high; wetlands dry up; survival of native plants and animals is low; fewer wildflowers bloom; wildlife death is widespread; algae blooms appear. Policy change; agriculture unemployment is high, food aid is needed. Poor air quality affects health; greenhouse gas emissions increase as hydropower production decreases; West Nile Virus outbreaks rise. Water shortages are widespread; surface water is depleted; federal irrigation water deliveries are extremely low; junior water rights are curtailed; water prices are extremely high; wells are dry, more and deeper wells are drilled; water quality is poor."

This morning's report states: "Out West, approximately 84% of the region is currently in drought on the map with 47% in Extreme Drought (D3) or Exceptional Drought (D4). On this week’s maps, drought intensified in areas of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Utah as dry conditions continued this week across most of the region. In California, areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) expanded on the map in the southern and eastern Sierra in response to very poor snowpack conditions during the 2020–2021 Water Year. In the southern Sierra, the Tulare Basin 6-Station Precipitation Index for the Water Year to Date (WYTD) is currently showing its 2nd driest Water Year on record—only slightly ahead of the driest year on record back in the 1976–1977 season. In the central Sierra, the San Joaquin 5-Station Index is currently observing its 3rd driest WYTD on record and in the northern Sierra, the Northern Sierra 8-station Index its 2nd driest WYTD on record. In response to deteriorating conditions across much of California, Governor Newsom expanded the drought emergency declaration to cover 39 additional counties across the state, including counties in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. In Arizona, the U.S. Forest Service is reporting a drought-related die-off of juniper trees across portions of central and northern Arizona in Prescott and Kaibab National Forests. In addition, reports are coming in from northern Arizona that ranchers on the Coconino Plateau have been hauling water for cattle and wildlife for the past month because dirt stock tanks are completely dry. In northwestern Oregon, areas of Severe Drought (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded on this week’s map as streamflow and soil moisture levels continue to degrade. In southwestern Montana, areas of Moderate Drought (D1) expanded on the map in response to below-normal precipitation during the past 30-to-90-day period, low streamflows, and reductions in irrigation allotments. In the Upper Colorado River Basin, May through July streamflow volumes are forecasted to be less than 60% of average and inflow into Lake Powell is forecasted to be 28% of normal. According to NOAA NCEI, the West Climate Region (California and Nevada) had its 6th driest April on record and its 3rd driest October through April period on record. Likewise, the Northwest Climate Region (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) had its 3rd driest April on record. In the Southwest Climate Region (Four Corners states), the last 12- and 24-month periods were both the driest on record for the region. At the state level, California observed its 6th warmest April on record and Arizona observed its 10th warmest."