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Washington declares drought emergency after 'exceptionally dry' winter

The emergency declaration allows the use of $4.5 million in drought response grants for entities to tackle the effects of the current drought.
Legislative Building at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington.
Posted at 2:17 PM, Apr 17, 2024

Washington state has declared a drought emergency, with the exception of three cities.

On Tuesday, officials from the Washington State Department of Ecology announced the declaration of a drought emergency for the majority of Washington State, citing an "exceptionally dry" winter that resulted in low snowpack and forecasts indicating continued dry conditions. 

“As our climate continues to change, we’re increasingly seeing our winters bring more rain and less snow,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a press release. “We depend on that winter snowpack to meet the needs of Washington’s farmers, fish, and communities during the dry summer months. And this year, it’s just not at the level we’re accustomed to and rely on.”

The emergency declaration allows officials to use $4.5 million in drought response grants for public entities to tackle the effects of the current drought.

The Department of Ecology says there are some exceptions for Seattle, Tacoma and Everett as utilities in these larger cities have reservoir storage and already implemented strategies that make them more resilient to drought. 

The state's drought declaration in 2023 was set to end on June 30 this year. This new declaration will extend until next year.