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Wet, cool spring helps eastern Washington out of its drought

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology
A heavy slow-melting snowpack has helped eastern Washington emerge from its 2021-22 drought.

The Department of Ecology announces all of the state is now in a normal moisture situation.

The drought is officially over in eastern Washington. The Department of Ecology made that declaration this week, saying an unusually wet spring in 2022 made it possible.

The spring of 2021 brought not only dry conditions, but also an unusual heat dome that hit the state in June. The Department of Ecology declared all of the state to be in an official drought, with portions of Eastern Washington hit the hardest.

But we followed up last year’s third-driest-ever spring with this year’s third-wettest-ever spring.

“The complete opposite of last year. From extreme dryness to extreme wetness. Conditions improved significantly, and our forecast run-off conditions really improved for the five basins where we had held the declaration in effect," said Jeff Marti, Ecology's drought coordinator.

By late May, the drought declaration was rescinded for all but five watersheds, all in eastern Washington. When rain continued through June, that situation improved as well.

Even though we are in the middle of summer now, with temperatures likely to remain hot for several more weeks, Marti says it looks like the situation should remain good until the fall precipitation returns.

“We had a really good snowpack, and it's still melting away in many parts of the state. So, there's a really good foundation in terms of water supply and soil moisture. But we wouldn't expect say a dry stretch in July and August to really change the game that much," he said.

Wednesday's pronouncement applies mostly to five eastern Washington watersheds. The drought declaration had been lifted earlier this spring for all but those, but now they are considered to be in good shape as well.