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Title

2015 Drought Response: Summary Report

 
Publication number Date Published
16-11-001March 2016
VIEW NOW: 2015 Drought Response: Summary Report (Number of pages: 37) (Publication Size: 3488KB)




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Author(s) Barb Anderson, Chris Anderson, Dave Christensen, Rebecca Inman, Jeff Marti,
Description Unlike classic droughts, characterized by extended precipitation deficits, 2015 was the year of the “snowpack drought.” Washington State had normal or near-normal precipitation over the 2014-2015 winter season. However, October through March the average statewide temperature was 40.5 degrees Fahrenheit, 4.7 degrees above the 20th century long-term average and ranking as the warmest October through March on record. Washington experienced record low snowpack because mountain precipitation that normally fell as snow instead fell as rain.

The snowpack deficit then was compounded as precipitation began to lag behind normal levels in early spring and into the summer. With record spring and summer temperatures, and little to no precipitation over many parts of the state, the snowpack drought morphed into a traditional precipitation drought, causing injury to crops and aquatic species. Many rivers and streams experienced record low flows.

The Governor declared drought on March 13, 2015, for three regions of the state—the Olympic Peninsula, the east slopes of the central Cascades and the Walla Walla Basin. The drought declaration was extended on April 17, 2015, to include more watersheds, and then was extended statewide on May 15, 2015. In July 2015, the Washington State Legislature approved $16 million for Ecology to support drought relief work for the biennium.
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Keywords report to the legislature, snow pack, drought