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The most widespread drought in nine years is expected to expand, according to seasonal forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Fox Weather reported on Friday that the agency expects the season to be above average from Southern California and the Southwest to the Central and Southern Plains, as well as along the Gulf Coast to the Southwest. East.
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The only areas expected to have a wetter than average spring are parts of the Midwest, northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest.
Areas of Texas not yet in drought are expected to develop drought through the spring, with further drought development expected in the Florida Peninsula and Big Bend, southern and southeast Georgia, some parts of the Carolinas, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and New York. Hudson Valley.
The US Drought Monitor shows that 57% of the continental US is moderate, severe or extreme. Another 16% is considered “abnormally dry”.
The drought will likely continue throughout the spring, with NOAA reports only the Pacific Northwest interior and parts of the upper and lower Mississippi valleys are expected to see some dryness improvement over the next three months.
This drought has become the most widespread drought in the Lower 48 since January 29, 2013according to data from the National Drought Mitigation Center.
In a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists have determined that the mega-drought in the American West is now the driest in at least 1,200 years.
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Scientists expanded on a study of mega-droughts published in 2018, using tree-ring and weather data to reconstruct soil moisture levels over time.
The years from 2000 to 2021 marked the driest 22-year period in southwestern North America since 800 AD.
The researchers said that last year’s exceptionally dry soil allowed the current drought to worsen and that climate change accounts for about 42% of the decline in soil moisture between 2000 and 2021 – as well as about 19% soil moisture anomalies last year.
“Climate change is shifting baseline conditions to a drier, progressively drier state in the West and that means the worst-case scenario just keeps getting worse,” said lead author Park Williams, climate hydrologist at UCLA, Associated Press. “That fits perfectly with what people thought in the 1900s was the worst-case scenario. But, today, I think we have to prepare for even worse future conditions than that.”
According to scientists, climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels is increasing temperatures and evaporation into the air.
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Williams said the mega-drought will eventually end with a few lucky rainy years – before another begins.
He noted that there is a direct link between drought, heat and wildfires raging in the West.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.