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Ongoing Western Drought Most Intense in 20 Years

USDA’s Economic Research Service Tuesday reported the ongoing Western drought is the most extreme drought in the region since 2000. As of September 19, 2022, the U.S. Drought Monitor classified more than 18 percent of land in the Western States as experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. In July of this year, more than 32 percent of land was in those categories. Drought conditions in the Western States gradually subsided in the latter months of 2021 but began intensifying again during the first half of 2022. The U.S. Drought Monitor categorizes drought in a region according to soil moisture, streamflow, and precipitation levels. Regional designations are primarily based on historical weather patterns. For agriculture, drought can mean diminished crop and livestock outputs, as well as reduced farm profitability. Drought also reduces the quantity of snowpack and streamflow available for diversions to irrigated agricultural land. These impacts can reverberate throughout the local, regional, and national economies.

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