Drought Spreads to 93 Percent of West—That’s Never Happened

Drought Spreads to 93 Percent of West—That’s Never Happened

The western United States is experiencing its worst drought this century, threatening to kill crops, spark wildfires and harm public health as hot and dry conditions are expected to continue this month. More than 93% of the land in seven Western states is in drought conditions, and nearly 59% of the area is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought—the two worst conditions—according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Before this year, the record for the amount of Western land in extreme or exceptional drought was 43%, set in September 2003. The Drought Monitor said drought-stricken ranchers are selling their cattle because of a lack of feed and poor forage conditions. Although drought conditions have been exacerbated by recent record temperatures in the West, Kluck said the current drought has been developing since the spring of 2020.

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