Forecasters also expect these conditions to worsen over the next three months. The last time the US had this large of a drought was in 2013. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe that the conditions will affect around 74 million people.
Geographically, the drought is affecting land from the Pacific Coast to the upper Midwest. The Southwest has been the hardest-hit area. “In many of the drought impacted areas, rangeland and winter pastures have already experienced adverse effects,” said Jon Gottschalck, a meteorologist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
The main factors that will exacerbate this drought are rising temperatures and low soil moisture. This will largely affect land in the southern and central Great Plains. “This spring, we anticipate a reduced risk for flooding, and forecast significantly below average water supply where impacts due to low flow contribute to the continued drought,” Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said.
Climate change has worsened these conditions and is showing no signs of slowing down. 2020 was tied as the hottest year on record with 2016.