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Washington State Faces a Drought Emergency While Much of the U.S. Is Having a Wet Spring. Is This Normal?

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Water is pumped into an irrigation canal in Biggs, California.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee expanded the state’s drought emergency declaration on Monday. It now covers nearly half of Washington as the state’s water supply diminishes, and warming weather is expected to continue throughout the summer. Areas in the Southeast United States, including parts of Georgia and South Carolina, are also experiencing abnormally dry weather this spring.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, California officials declared the state to be drought-free after more than seven years. And this week, California is expected to get 150 to 200 percent of its normal monthly rainfall through May 22nd, according to CNN. The Midwest has also experienced extreme weather this spring: Major flooding has claimed lives, closed roads, and devastated infrastructure.

To find out if these conditions are normal (or possibly, the new normal), Pacific Standard spoke to Benjamin Cook, an adjunct research scientist at the Earth Institute’s Lamont-Dougherty Earth Observatory and a research physical scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, where he researches drought.

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