The perils of a warm spring? Droughts and wildfires

• May 3, 2012
Colorado River Basin

Creative Commons: Wolfgang Staudt, 2006

The early spring of 2012 raised both temperatures and eyebrows, including President Obama’s.

As reported in The Weekly Standard and elsewhere, the President recently commented at an Atlanta fundraiser: “When it is 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March, you start thinking. On the other hand, I really have enjoyed nice weather.” Now, in April, we’re seeing that this spring break may leave us with a fierce hangover.

On April 10th, 61 percent of the lower 48 states were listed by the U.S. Drought Monitor to be in abnormally dry or drought conditions. And the Southwest, which largely relies on ice melt into the Colorado River Basin from the Rocky Mountains and previous years’ melt stored in the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs for its water supply, is poised for a dry, hot summer, because those areas received less than 70 percent of the average snowfall according to the USDA National Water & Climate Center.

These reservoirs are already at only 64 percent capacity following a decade-long drought from 2000 to 2010. And the possibility of more drought years to come is raising concerns over how to manage a river of which every drop (and then some) is now allocated to some use.

Read More: National Geographic >>


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