The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Drought conditions hitting Washington, Oregon


Hot and dry weather has yielded emerging drought conditions across much of Oregon and Washington, but healthy streamflows persist throughout much of the basin mostly due to last winter’s ample snowpack.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a press release Wednesday announcing a drought emergency declaration for Wheeler County. It is the seventh Oregon county under a drought emergency, joining Klamath, Grant, Harney, Lake, Baker and Douglas counties.

Drought declarations allow for increased flexibility in managing water to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible.

“Forecasted water conditions are not expected to improve, and drought is likely to have significant impacts on agriculture, livestock, natural resources and the local economy,” Brown’s press release states.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly the entire state of Oregon in abnormally dry, moderate drought or severe drought conditions (in eastern Oregon).

Conditions are not as bad in neighboring Washington, but drought potential is being monitored closely. The Drought Monitor reports that conditions are driest in the western part of the state, with normal conditions persisting through most of eastern Washington.

“We are seeing dry areas around the state. NOAA is forecasting summer to be even drier and warmer than normal, so our dry conditions are likely to persist until the fall rains return,” states a press release on water supply issued by the Washington Department of Ecology.

Currently, parts of the state,mostly southwest Washington, are experiencing moderate drought-like conditions,” the release states. “While drought-like conditions are evident, we’re not declaring a drought emergency at this time … conditions that could trigger a drought emergency are when water supply in an area is 75 percent of normal and there is an expectation of undue hardship because of deficient water supply. We are watching the situation closely.”

Streamflows remain healthy through most of the Columbia Basin. According to the Northwest River Forecast Center in Portland, streamflows through September are still projected to be 125 to 150 percent of average at many river gauges in western Montana and Idaho; and 110 to 125 percent of average through the eastern half of Washington and 90 to 110 percent in the northern Cascades.


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