The mega drought that has afflicted the Western USA for two decades is expanding into the Plains states, bringing the total area of drought to 60%. This week’s drought affliction increases the total square miles by the equivalent of California.
According to NOAA’s spring outlook, the conditions will persist through get worse and spread as temperatures remain well above normal and precipitation continues to decline.
As of early March, more than half of Kansas has been in severe drought, with Texas more than two thirds and 75% of Oklahoma.
Among the most immediate effects will be a decline in winter wheat production, which is taking place just as the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens global wheat supplies
In California, water authorities are staring down a continuation of an ongoing water shortage as reservoirs fail to recover after freak storms that hit in late winter.
Lake Powell, one of a handful of critical reservoirs, is now at 3,525 feet, the lowest level since it was created in 1953. If water levels sink much more, hydropower will be shut down. In the Central Valley, three year precipitation totals are at a record low. If these trends hold, the ever worsening wildfire season will get worse.