We all know about the epic, multi-year drought in California, one that has resulted in mandatory water restrictions, crop reduction and fears of a dwindling drinking water supply.
But now, two other major metropolitan areas are joining the Golden State in deteriorating drought conditions.
Seattle, Washington and Miami, Florida both saw their official drought statuses upgraded in the United States Drought Monitor (USDM)’s latest update on Thursday, with Miami now mired in the U.S.’s worst drought conditions east of the Rockies. Miami and Fort Lauderdale were both upgraded this week from a “severe” to “extreme” drought (the “extreme” moniker is the second-highest of five scales of drought the USDM uses) by the USDM this week, and Seattle moved from a “moderate” to “severe” drought (“severe” is the third-highest of the USDM’s five scales) this week as well.
Seattle is officially three inches short (3.06″ as of Saturday) of its typical year-to-date rainfall, but extreme heat coupled with a particularly dry May, June and early July has put the Emerald City in the worry zone rainfall-wise of late. Miami, meanwhile, is significantly worse off, with the city officially nearly a full foot of rain short of its typical year-to-date. Nearby Fort Lauderdale is 14.49″ shy of its typical annual rainfall – barely half of where it should be – through Saturday.
No major water restrictions or other tangible impacts are being felt in either city yet, however, continued drought conditions could lead to depleted reservoirs in the near future. Brush fires and wildfires are more likely in both regions due to the continued dry pattern.
A persistent Western ridge of high pressure, potentially enhanced by increasing signs of a strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, is acting as a block for most precipitation moving into the Northwest. In the Southeast, a similar blocking mechanism, another persistent powerful area of high pressure, is keeping things drier than normal across most of the region, but particularly for south Florida.
With that said, the once-significant drought in parts of the South, Texas and Oklahoma in particular, is all but over after record rainfall across the region during the spring and early summer.
Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on drought concerns across the nation.
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi