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Despite snow, rain, Pacific Northwest faces drought

Much of Washington, Oregon and Idaho are already experiencing moderate, severe and even extreme levels of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash — Despite a healthy amount of snowfall in the North Cascades over the winter and some recent rain, the Pacific Northwest slid last week into the “abnormally dry” drought category.

“We’ve had some unseasonably dry weather. … We’ve seen an intensification of dryness since February, and particularly in the past 60 days,” said Kelsey Jencso of the Montana Climate Office. “It is shaping up to be a pretty dry spring.”

Much of Washington, Oregon and Idaho are already experiencing moderate, severe and even extreme levels of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

Washington state experienced the 11th driest March since data collection began 126 years ago, Jencso said.

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Ryan Lucas of the NOAA’s Northwest River Forecast Center said low precipitation is forecast to continue through July. Despite recent rain and additional rain in the short-term forecast, rainfall isn’t keeping pace with normal levels, he said.

While snowpack is in good shape — 131% of normal statewide, 119% of normal in north Puget Sound, and 118% of normal in the Skagit River watershed as of April 1 — less rain that normal could impact stream flows and water quality, particularly over the summer.

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