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Early snowmelt, a lack of spring rain and low stream flows have prompted the Washington Department of Ecology to declare a drought emergency for watersheds in 12 counties throughout the state. Counties affected by the drought declaration include Benton, Clallam, Columbia, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Skagit, Snohomish, Walla Walla, Whatcom and Yakima. The rest of the state remains under the drought advisory issued by Ecology July 5. In Washington, drought is declared when there is less than 75% of normal water supply and there is the risk of undue hardship. Declaring a drought emergency allows Ecology to process emergency water right permits and transfers. New legislation passed this spring also makes $3 million in emergency drought funds available as grants to support communities, irrigation districts, Tribes and other public entities facing hardships. May and June of this year ranked as the fourth warmest and 11th driest such period since 1895. In June, Washington received only 49% of its usual rainfall. Those hot days led to early runoff of the snowpack that feeds many Washington rivers, and the dry weather deprived the soil of a final shot of moisture before the summer heat arrived. Current forecasts show a high likelihood of continued warm, dry weather through October.



Monday, 24 July 2023