The U.S. Drought Monitor has released its latest report and the results are deeply troubling. Seven states are experiencing long-term severe drought, resulting in severe water scarcity and profound agricultural losses, and California only has enough water reserves to last roughly two years.
At least 30 percent of the United States is currently experiencing moderate drought conditions at a minimum, but in the Southwest and into the Midwest things are much, much worse. Seven states have over half their landmass under severe drought conditions: Arizona, California, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Six of these states have extreme drought conditions in at least 30 percent of their area. Two states are also suffering the most severe category of drought, exceptional drought, which is covering 25 percent of California and 30 percent of Oklahoma.
Severe drought conditions are associated with loss of crops and frequent water shortages and result in mandatory water restrictions, according to 24/7 Wall Street, while extreme drought conditions cause widespread water shortages and major losses to both crops and pastures. Exceptional drought results in widespread crop and pasture loss and water shortages can reach emergency levels. Given than some states have been experiencing drought conditions for over three and a half years, the economic impacts are biting hard.
In California, however, the drought is having an impact on more than just agriculture. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s stats reveal that 75 percent of the state is in extreme drought. In an interview with 24/7 Wall Street, U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey stated, “At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining.” Similarly, water supplies are under threat in three other states, with reservoir levels at two-thirds capacity in Arizona, just over half in New Mexico, and about one-third capacity in Nevada.
The U.S. Drought Monitor releases national drought summary statistics every Thursday, including a clickable map.