Western Washington is typically associated with rain, green trees, and healthy environments, making the idea of drought seem like a far-fetched notion. However, as exemplified most recently by dry conditions in 2001, droughts can also occur in this part of the State.

Drought can be a result of multiple causes including global weather patterns that produce warm, dry air resulting in less precipitation. Drought may be defined as a prolonged period of dryness severe enough to reduce soil moisture, water and snow levels below the minimum necessary for sustaining plant, animal, and economic systems.

Assessing the probability of drought conditions in Puget Sound can be challenging due to our temperate weather. As a result, current long-range forecasts of drought have limited reliability. If historic patterns repeat themselves, dry conditions occur approximately every decade.

Drought conditions can have an impact on the economic viability of agriculture and power industries as well as water and snow recreational activities. Drought conditions would impact the amount of water available for crops, and could also reduce the area snow pack, which could have a negative result on winter sports tourism.

Additionally, due to the prevalence of hydroelectric dams in the area, drought could also have a negative impact on the availability and cost of electronic power. In severe cases, our region could experience future planned power outages as a result. Due to dry conditions, there would be in increase in fire activity, typically involving dry brush and wildland, or wildland interface areas. Another negative impact could include the effect on the capabilities of firefighters in the area, as water shortages may result in reduced water flow and pressure available to combat fires. Do your part to combat dry conditions by using water wisely.

DroughtWhat to do to prepare for drought:

  • Learn water restrictions in your area and how to reduce water consumption in and around your home.
  • Plan for the possibility of power outages during severe drought conditions.