Experts Say Western U.S. Megadrought Will Likely Deepen This Spring

by Shelby Scott

For many Americans, late winter might have been fraught with dangerous weather conditions. Frequent snowfall resulted in less than ideal road conditions. More than once, many Americans were left without power as trees fell and powerlines were knocked out. However, despite what we’ve been experiencing lately, experts suggest it won’t compare to drought conditions we’ll see in the coming months. For more than two decades, the West has endured a record-shattering megadrought. But now, in its seasonal outlook on Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported conditions will deepen this spring.

At a Glance:

  • High heat and drought to “fuel each other,” creating hot, intense conditions.
  • Significant flooding unlikely amid deepening megadrought.
  • 60% of the lower 48 states face “some form of drought”

American West Megadrought to Deepen During Spring Months

Spring is typically thought to bring increased amounts of rain. Some areas across the U.S. even tend to experience significant flooding. However, according to the AP, things are looking pretty dry this season.

Overall, the outlet reports spring is likely to be hotter than normal in most U.S. states in the coming months. Meteorologists expect significantly increased temperatures throughout April, May, and June. The outlet did mention a few exceptions, including Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, and much of Illinois.

Megadrought conditions are expected to deepen throughout the spring as high heat and drought combine. The result? Increasingly hot and intensely dry weather conditions.

That’s not all though. The outlet further reported seasonal allergies, already a menace for many Americans this time of year, will only become worse.

The coming dry spring could be a result of increased climate change. Deke Arndt, NOAA’s climate science and services chief concurred, stating, “The reason the West is warming is climate change, especially over the multiple decade timeframe.”

Studies support the claim that climate change has altered weather patterns in the U.S. The decades-long megadrought, declared the worst in 1,200 years, is a result of burning coal, oil, and natural gas.

Dry Conditions Out West Leave Decreased Flood Risks to the East

As we saw last year, megadrought conditions have resulted in increasingly dangerous and rapidly spreading wildfires. And since the megadrought is set to deepen this spring, we can only expect similarly dangerous wildfires this summer.

However, to the East, worsening drought conditions mean something else entirely. For states located along the east coast, spring signifies frequent flooding conditions, with significant damage resulting from regular flash floods.

But a hotter, dryer spring means many Americans won’t face the same weather conditions and resulting disasters that happen each year.

The outlet reports the only states likely to see a wetter-than-normal spring are located around the Great Lakes and south to Kentucky. As to the central regions of the U.S., much of the Mississippi River Valley and Tennessee Valley will avoid major flooding.