Thunderstorms during the past week helped decrease exceptional drought in one county in California as exceptional, extreme and severe drought conditions dominate the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released July 16.
The Drought Monitor categories range from Abnormally Dry to Exceptional Drought. Extreme and Exceptional are the highest levels on the Monitor’s intensity scale.
"In northeastern California, recent thunderstorm activity led to a one-category improvement in areas of Exceptional Drought in Modoc County," the update stated. "According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Alturas, the recent rains have improved rangeland conditions as well as area groundwater, ponds, and springs in some locations."
But nearly all of California is in Severe Drought, with 71 percent in Extreme Drought and 46 percent in Exceptional Drought.
In Nevada, 76 percent of the state is in Severe Drought and nearly 48 percent is in Extreme Drought.
Drought in Washington and Oregon harms fish, agriculture
In the Pacific Northwest, temperatures were above normal last week, while "average temperatures were two to ten degrees below normal across most of California, the Intermountain West, and the Southwest."
According to the report, "the continued overall hot and dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest led to movement of the impact lines on this week’s map to reflect the short-term impacts being reported across the region. Hot and dry conditions during the past 60 days have impacted the region’s agricultural sectors, fisheries, and wildland fire conditions."
The report says warm water temperatures in Oregon have led to fish mortality in both the Deschutes and Willamette rivers.
"According to the July 6, 2015 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Conditions report, non-irrigated crops in parts of Washington are showing signs of stress. Pastures in central Washington are reported as being short and extremely dry. In southeastern Washington, the winter wheat harvest is expected to be two weeks ahead of schedule."
The 6 to 10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures along the West Coast with a "high probability of above-average precipitation forecasted for western portions of the Southwest, southern California, Intermountain West, and eastern portions of the Pacific Northwest."
The drought is forecast to persist and intensify through Oct. 31 for California, Oregon and Washington.