DROUGHT FORECAST

One of the wettest winters on record has resulted in major reductions in the area and severity of drought in the Southwest and the Colorado River Basin, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) 2005 U.S. Spring Outlook for April through June.

Short-term drought concerns have been alleviated in many areas of the Southwest, especially southern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Abundant snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin is resulting in above-normal inflow to the region's reservoirs. However, with reservoir storages at 17 percent capacity in Nevada and 29 percent capacity in New Mexico, local water supply problems are still possible.

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The southward shift in the winter storm track that helped the Southwest has resulted in deficient rain and snow to the north. Moderate to severe drought developed over the winter in portions of the Pacific Northwest. Some mountain observation sites in Idaho, Montana and Washington were snowless in early March for the first time in more than 30 years. Long-term drought has continued in the northern Rockies and the upper Missouri River Basin.

NOAA's seasonal outlook calls for warmer-than-normal temperatures in parts of the West, Southwest, the mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Alaska and Hawaii. Parts of the western Great Lakes and the southern Plains are expected to be cooler than normal. Above-normal precipitation is expected in parts of the western Great Lakes, southern Plains and most of Alaska, with drier-than-normal conditions expected in Hawaii and parts of Florida and California.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Programs

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