Pushback on Washington state’s emergency drought declaration

El Niño is one of the reasons the Washington State Department of Ecology declared a drought emergency for the state, but not everyone is in agreement.

A professor of atmospheric science shares his thoughts.
According to Cliff Mass with the University of Washington, “What has happened is the snowpack is below normal. Not as bad as it’s gotten, but it’s below normal and it has to do with the fact that we’ve been in this El Niño year, which you end up with near-normal precipitation, but because of the temperatures aloft and because of the type of atmospheric structures that developed during the El Niño years, we tend to have less of a snowpack here in Washington state. On the other hand, all you have to do is go south of the Washington border, and if you go to Oregon or California, not only is the precipitation huge, but the snowpack is above normal. So, for the West Coast as a whole, you know, this has been a tremendously good year in terms of both precipitation and snowpack.”

Farmers are facing anywhere from abnormal to moderate levels of dryness, but the state is not fully covered.