Spring weather in Lake County has been cooler and wetter, making at least a small difference in the area’s drought conditions.
While 100% of Lake County is still experiencing some level of drought, there is no longer any portion of the county that is classified as being in “Exceptional Drought (D4)” — the most extreme drought level according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country using a five-category system, from Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions to Exceptional Drought (D4).
Unfortunately, 85.71% of Lake County is still classified under “Extreme Drought (D3),” during which planting is delayed, chance of wildfire is high, and reservoirs and lakes are very low compared to normal.
One-hundred percent of the area is experiencing “Severe Drought (D2).” According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the following can be expected: 1) Pastures are brown; hay yields are down, and prices are up; producers are selling cattle; 2) Fire risk increases; 3) Marshes are drying up, little water is available for waterfowl and wildlife; bears are moving into urban areas.
The Drought Monitor states that an estimated 135,281 acres of hay in Lake County are in drought, along with an estimated 47,732 head of cattle.
In neighboring Klamath County, May precipitation was up .93 inches from normal. However, wetter conditions have again made only a slight impact on the intense drought, with 1% fewer people being impacted by drought than the previous month, according to the Drought Monitor.
Klamath County also saw all areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) disappear. Similar to Lake County, 88.47% of the Klamath is experiencing Extreme Drought (D3).
Crook County is currently experiencing the worst drought of all Oregon counties, with 53.3% of the area in Exceptional Drought. In addition to the negative effects of the other drought categories, the D4 classification comes with an additional disadvantage — reduced power generation.