Drought monitor has 577,000 Alaskans in abnormally dry conditions
On Thursday, the National Integrated Drought Information System released the latest drought monitor, which shows location and intensity of drought across the country.
NIDIS updates and releases the information every week. This week’s release is not good for Alaska.
More than 80% of the state’s population lives in an area considered abnormally dry or in drought conditions. That equates to about 577,000 Alaskans.
Abnormally dry conditions encompass 62.3% of the state. Drought conditions spread across 5.2% of Alaska — all in Southeast.
Dry conditions in Southeast date back to July of 2018. The lack of moisture through fall, winter and spring made this the most intense drought on record for Alaska.
Starting the week of May 21, severe drought conditions gripped 0.9% of the state. The dry summer kept this number from changing.
The abnormally dry conditions in Southcentral and the Interior haven’t been around quite as long.
As few as two months ago, Anchorage was still above normal in terms of moisture received. Despite our recent dry spell, Anchorage is still above normal in terms of precipitation year-to-date.
The reason we dried out so much in Southcentral recently was two-fold. The lack of moisture hit almost exactly when we started to heat up. In the past month, the amount of rainfall in Anchorage has been almost negligible. That, combined with temperatures averaging almost 7 degrees above normal in June and more than 14 degrees above normal so far in July, allowed us to dry out rapidly.
Cooler temperatures returned, offering some relief, but the long-term forecast doesn’t look too promising. The Climate Prediction Center released it’s long-range forecasts predicting above normal temperatures and less-than-normal moisture in the coming weeks.
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