Last revised: November 24, 2015
Rain, snow eases drought in Western Washington but economic losses mount from extreme drought in the East
Heavy rains and some snow in the mountains during the months of October and November have eased the drought in Western Washington but economic losses from the extreme drought in Eastern Washington are still being calculated.
Storms have swollen rivers and streams in Western Washington, even caused flooding in some areas but extremely dry conditions persist in Eastern Washington as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor. This is a particular hardship for dry land wheat farmers who rely on adequate soil moisture over the winter for their crops.
Rains have improved reservoir storage on both sides of the Cascades but in the Yakima basin irrigation reservoirs remain at only 33 percent of capacity and a winter forecast of higher than normal temperatures and below normal snowpack may mean early snowmelt and less run-off in the spring and early summer to fill irrigation reservoirs.
The Yakima and other productive agricultural regions like the Wenatchee and Walla basins are most vulnerable to another snowpack drought in 2016. The state Department of Agriculture estimates that these areas have suffered millions of dollars in crop losses in this year’s drought and total losses statewide will exceed $1.2 billion. The Department of Ecology is preparing now to help relieve impacts from water shortages in agricultural areas in 2016 and help farmers avoid another year of significant economic hardships.
Ecology is authorized to issue emergency drought permits. Contact the closest regional office
Issues and drought relief work in Ecology’s four regions:
Additional drought response information for:
Drought Relief Grant Program closed for 2015
The application period for the 2015 Drought Emergency Grant Program is now closed. Ecology funded a total of 14 drought relief projects across the state for a total of expenditure of more than $1 million. Applicants were required to provide a 50 percent funding match except for applications from fiscally disadvantaged areas.
In the event of another declared drought in 2016, Ecology will consider another year of grant applications.
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