The West is Drying Up! Make that: Dried Up.

What was once a marina sits high and dry due to Lake Mead receding in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona.John Locher / AP file
What was once a marina sits high and dry due to Lake Mead receding in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona.John Locher / AP file

For the past 20 years the desert Southwest has faced its worst drought in modern times and perhaps in centuries. The cover picture above is a marina shot from Lake Mead in Nevada. Take a look at the drought monitor that came out yesterday and you’ll see the dark red (extreme) drought areas:

No drought for us, but the west is in trouble

You may think, well, it is the desert after all. But it’s also a part of our country where the population has been increasing 20-50% in just the last two decades and with more people comes more demand, especially for water and hydroelectricity. Look at the current ‘streamflow’ data and you’ll see a lot of red dots out that way:

USGS Streamflow

The rain forecast for the area remains dire through the summer and the last 30 days have been as far below normal as the scale goes:

Below Normal Precip out west

Adding to that issue is the wildfire threat which runs from High (Yellow) to Extreme (Red):

Fire Danger Currently

And Then There is The Heat!

Lack of rain is one thing, but unbearable heat is another. Talk about adding insult to injury! Today Las Vegas is forecast to hit 114° with Arizona forecasters across the state expecting anywhere from 100-116°. Look below at this map and you’ll see where I’ve noted Palm Springs, predicted this afternoon to reach 119°.

Highs Today from the San Diego Weather office

Depending on who you ask, all is not lost. More than anything, the west is going to have to adapt to a new normal. Signs of relief are simply not there, so figuring out ways to protect and preserve what water they do have is going to be top of the list. An optimistic and interesting article from NBC is right here.

Happy weekend--our thoughts are certainly with the folks facing tropical trouble tonight and tomorrow. Enjoy our quieter weather celebrating Juneteenth, Father’s Day, or just the weekend!

Frank

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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.