West Coast Drought
The Disaster: The worst recorded drought to hit the West Coast has been responsible for billions of dollars in damage this year. The hardest hit state has been California, where an estimated 96 percent of the state is under some form of water restrictions. Last year’s ski season was one of the worst on record with numerous resorts reporting below average snowfall and thousands of farmers are letting fields go fallow. Across the state there were over 5,500 wildfires with several notable ones (the Happy Complex fire and San Diego fires) causing extreme damage. Further up the West Coast, Washington State experienced its largest recorded wildfire ever when the Carlton Complex fire destroyed over 250,000 acres. “We had at least one Red Cross shelter open every single day across the region from July 1 until the end of September,” said Michael Byrne, Division Disaster Executive of the American Red Cross. “That is unheard of for us, we are there at the beginning offering shelter not for four months.”
State of Recovery: Approximately 80 percent of the West Coast remains under drought conditions, but a minor El Niño event forecast by the National Weather Service is predicted to bring some relief. Scientists are mixed as to the overall effect this will offer for the next year.
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