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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Weather: Hot weather dries up Western U.S. aquifers


There was another round of hot weather across the Inland Northwest earlier this week as temperatures soared into the 90s in many areas. However, the recent heat wave didn’t last nearly as long as the last one as temperatures were expected to cool down.

The Western states are still well below average in terms of rainfall. At the Spokane airport, only 7.02 inches of rain and melted snow has been reported since Jan. 1. The normal is close to 9.5 inches.

In Coeur d’Alene, thanks to the strong thunderstorms in early June, moisture totals are actually near the normal of about 14.50 inches.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, severe, extreme and exceptional drought conditions plague much of the West. Parts of central and Southern California remain under extreme to exceptional drought. In the Inland Northwest, we’re now under severe drought with northwestern Montana reporting extreme drought.

Despite the recent moisture and forecasts of heavier than normal rainfall in California this upcoming winter season, the aquifers in the farm-rich Central Valley of California are going dry. The current mega-drought has cut irrigation water supplies by nearly 80 percent. Farmers who illegally pump water out of the state’s canals are being fined $1,000 a day. But, without this water, their crops would have been dead by early July.

Researchers from the University of California at Irvine said that 21 out of 37 of the world’s major aquifers have “passed the tipping point and are gradually drying up.” Satellite data from NASA indicate many countries are overdrawing water from the largest underground aquifers.

The huge Arabian Aquifer System in the Mideast serves more than 60 million people. It’s considered the most severely stressed groundwater basin in the world. The Indus Basin Aquifer in northwestern India and Pakistan is the second most stressed underground water basin. It provides water to more than 800 million people. The third most stressed is in California’s Central Valley.

Many of our steams in the Northwest are drying up. However, our overall water situation is still pretty good. Between now and mid-September, I only see scattered showers and thunderstorms, but mainly over the mountains as that strong high pressure system continues to dominate.

Contact Randy Mann at www.facebook. com/wxmann, or go to www.longrange for more information.
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