Extreme drought worsens in West, with ‘exceptional’ conditions covering more than 26% of the region ~ CNN

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(CNN)A very dry week with well-above average temperatures has worsened an already severe drought in the Western US, according to the US Drought Monitor. New data shows the entirety of four states are under drought conditions — California, Oregon, Utah and Nevada. Overall, drought is being experienced in 88% of the Western US as of this week. Scientists say persistent drought conditions in this region are being exacerbated by manmade climate change.

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In addition to the critical water shortages this year’s drought has caused, forecasters have raised concerns that the continued dry conditions will cause a particularly intense wildfire season. As of Thursday the Storm Prediction Center’s fire weather outlook was classified as “critical” or “extreme” across parts of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.

“Warmer than normal temperatures dominated from California to the Dakotas with departures of 9-12 degrees above normal and even higher in the northern Plains,” scientists with the US Drought Monitor wrote on Thursday. Areas of the South and southern Plains saw some improvement which was aided by rain and cooler temperatures.

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