Story at a glance
- New data from the United States Drought Monitor shows that most U.S. states are experiencing some form of drought.
- While the worst drought conditions are in the Western part of the country, some Midwestern and Eastern states are almost entirely in a moderate level of drought.
- Most states are also suffering from exceptional dryness as well.
There are 40 states that are currently experiencing some form of drought, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The most severe drought conditions are in the Western part of the country in states like Texas, California and Arizona, where the extreme heat and lack of rainfall has caused water levels at Lake Mead to recede so much at least two human skeletons and a sunken WW2 era vessel have been found in parts of the now-exposed bottom.
Americans living in states not affected by drought conditions should still be concerned since a stressed water supply in one area can have a ripple effect on neighboring states or large swaths of the country, according to Jonathan London, associate professor of human ecology at the University of California, Davis.
“What happens in one state affects many others both in terms of food and in infrastructure,” said London.
For example, farms in the San Joaquin Valley in central California grow a quarter of the country’s food, so a drought in that area means less food to ship out to cities across the country.
Dryer grasslands and forests boosts the chances of wildfires, which can in turn hurt the air quality by increasing exposure to harmful pollutants or altering air pollution patterns, one study found.
Here is a breakdown of all the levels of drought states are experiencing:
Only moderate drought:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Severe and moderate drought:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Moderate, severe and extreme drought:
Moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought:
- New Mexico
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