From E&E News (Thomas Frank) via Scientific American:
The extreme dry conditions threaten crops and raise wildfire risks
The western United States is experiencing its worst drought this century, threatening to kill crops, spark wildfires and harm public health as hot and dry conditions are expected to continue this month.
More than 93% of the land in seven Western states is in drought conditions, and nearly 59% of the area is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought—the two worst conditions—according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Both figures are the highest this century for the area that covers all of Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and most of Utah.
Before this year, the record for the amount of Western land in extreme or exceptional drought was 43%, set in September 2003.
The conditions have led to fire and fishing restrictions across the West and have prompted wildfire alerts. The National Interagency Fire Center is warning that the intensifying drought across the West is creating significant wildfire risk over the next three months from California to the Northwest and across the northern Plains…
Agriculture Department reports show that several crops, including wheat, sunflowers and barley, are threatened by the extensive drought, which is concentrated in the West but is also affecting areas as far east as the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa…
Although drought conditions have been exacerbated by recent record temperatures in the West, Kluck said the current drought has been developing since the spring of 2020.