The US is experiencing one of the driest winters yet, as the megadrought continues. It’s been over a month since the West has seen a significant snowstorm. It’s been one of the driest years on record, with snow covering just 27% of the US. It’s the driest it’s been in 1,200 years.
- Related: NOAA: Even Small Additional Increases in Greenhouse Gases Will Make Decades-Long “Megadroughts” More Common
Stoke was high after a wet ending to 2021. After experiencing a few large storms through December into the New Year, normal precipitation averages were boosted to 200% for regions of California, Nevada, and the Rockies west of the Continental Divide. However, continuous snowfall throughout this season would have been needed to impact the long-term megadrought these regions face. Unfortunately, since then, only a few smaller storms have passed through.
The drought status for the Western US Region has increased from 77% last year to 88% this year. This isn’t the first season that has been exceptionally dry. The past two seasons, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, majorly contributed to the continuation of this drought.
Lack of snow isn’t just affecting how much fresh pow we can ski. The combination of lack of precipitation from the past few years and this season will significantly impact wildfire season. The wildfires that tore through much of Northwest and Northern California and Colorado at the end of 2021 are consequences of the perpetual dryness these regions have faced over the past few years.
With a continued lack of precipitation on the horizon, it is expected the drought will persist. Areas in Northeast Washington, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin, may see a slight improvement.