Forecasters are predicting the odds favor a La Nina forming next fall, a climate phenomenon linked to large snowpacks and good irrigation seasons in most Northwest basins.
A decades-long megadrought spurred by climate change, which has led to alarmingly low reservoir levels in the region, nearing or at records in some cases, add urgency to considering this consideration.
Many residents and tourists alike can be found floating on the Deschutes River in Bend during the summer months.
In the 75-year history of the Wickiup Reservoir, water levels have never been this low so early in the summer.
Wickiup Reservoir has approximately six weeks’ worth of water reserves. Unless there is substantial rainfall over the next six weeks, patrons of North Unit Irrigation District in Jefferson County will see their water delivery shut down at the earliest date in the district’s history.
For the second year in a row, Jefferson County commissioners have asked the governor to declare a drought emergency for the county.
In the summer, the snow from the mountains melts, and that’s where Central Oregon gets its water. Since the region faces an extreme drought, that snowpack has already melted.
More than 93% of the land in seven Western states is in drought conditions, and nearly 59% of the area is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought—the two worst conditions—according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Gov. Kate Brown is directing state agencies to refrain from watering lawns, washing windows and running fountains at state office buildings and other facilities.