Aridification is the New Megadrought
What is going on?
The Western United States is currently preparing for and experiencing what has historically been known as a megadrought. California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado are all measuring some level of Extreme or Exceptional drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Each state is experiencing some combination of unusually dry monsoon seasons, below-average precipitation, reduced snowpack, early wildfires, and declining runoff and water flows from the regions key water sources of the Colorado River and Rio Grande.
While average statewide precipitation in Arizona between June and March is 11 inches, between June 2020 and March 2021, the state only received four inches. New Mexico is just as dire, with more than 50% of the state in the Exceptional drought category as of April 2021, while a year ago over 50% of the state was drought-free. Nevada is seeing wildfires already starting, and with Lake Mead’s water levels dropping, the Hoover Dam’s power generation will be impacted. Although the drought in Denver is improving, the majority of Western Colorado is in an Exceptional drought. The Sierra Nevada Mountains in California are currently only at 2% of their average snowpack for this time of year and Gavin Newsom has declared drought in two California counties. The situation in Texas isn’t much better, with 75%