I wanted to give you an overview of where we stand with the current US drought which now has just over 30% of the US in at least “moderate” drought conditions. In seven states drought conditions were so severe that each had more than half of its land area in what’s called “severe drought.” Severe drought is characterized by crop loss, frequent water shortages, and mandatory water use restrictions. While large portions of the seven states suffer from this severe drought, some parts of these states are in even worse condition. In six of the seven states with the highest levels of drought, more than 30% of each state was in “extreme” drought as of last week. Extreme drought is characterized by major crop and pasture losses, as well as widespread water shortages. Additionally, in California and Oklahoma, 25% and 30% of the state, respectively, suffered from exceptional drought, the highest severity classification. With exceptional drought, crop and pasture loss is widespread, and shortages of well and reservoir water can lead to water emergencies. Listed below are the seven states that are running out of water and some details surrounding their situation. (Source: 24/7WallSt.)
#7. Texas – With nearly 40% of land area in the state experiencing extreme drought conditions, Texas’ agriculture industry will continue to be hit hard. Remember, texas has nearly a quarter of a million farms, the most out of any state in the nation, as of 2012.
- Pct. severe drought: 56.1%
- Pct. extreme drought: 39.9% (4th highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 20.7% (3rd highest)
#6. Oklahoma – With the highest and second highest percentages in the exceptional and extreme drought categories respectively, Oklahoma has reached emergency levels. The state’s Emergency Drought Relief Commission has awarded more than $1 million to several drought-ridden communities in the state.
- Pct. severe drought: 64.5%
- Pct. extreme drought: 50.1% (2nd highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 30.4% (the highest)
#5. Arizona – While Arizona isn’t experiencing exceptional drought, severe drought conditions have engulfed more than three quarters of the state. The extreme heat and lighter-than-average snowfall from the winter have reduced the soil moisture to such a degree that fire hazards are significantly higher.
- Pct. severe drought: 76.3%
- Pct. extreme drought: 7.7% (9th highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 0.0%
#4. Kansas – While Kansas has at least 80% of the state engulfed sever drought, you might find it interesting that compared to last May, the state has improved in the exceptional drought category, dropping from 20% last May, down to just 2.8% currently. In Announcing the severity of the state’s drought problem, Kansas governor Sam Brownback has lifted restricitons on taking water from state-owned fishing lakes.
- Pct. severe drought: 80.8%
- Pct. extreme drought: 48.1% (3rd highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 2.8% (6th highest)
#3. New Mexico – Though conditions in New Mexico are bad, they aren’t as bad as last year at this time when virtually the entire state was in at least severe drought, with more than 80% in extreme drought conditions.
- Pct. severe drought: 86.2%
- Pct. extreme drought: 33.3% (6th highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 4.5% (5th highest)
#2. Nevada – Nearly 40% of Nevada was covered in extreme drought last week, among the highest rates in the country. According to Las Vegas Valley Water District, the main cause of the drought this year has been below average snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. Melting snow from the Rocky Mountains eventually flows into Lake Mead, which provides most of the Las Vegas Valley with water.
- Pct. severe drought: 87.0%
- Pct. extreme drought: 38.7% (5th highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 8.2% (4th highest)
#1. California – California had the nation’s worst drought problem with more than 76% of the state experiencing extreme drought as of last week. Drought in California has worsened considerably in recent years. California had 465,422 hired farm workers in 2012, more than any other state. Farm workers would likely suffer further if conditions persist. The shortage of potable water has been so severe that California is now investing in long-term solutions, such as desalination plants. A facility is expected to be the largest in the Western hemisphere is currently under construction in Southern California.
- Pct. severe drought: 100.0%
- Pct. extreme drought: 76.7% (the highest)
- Pct. exceptional drought: 24.8% (2nd highest)