Local NewsDrought Crisis


What does 'drought' really mean?

Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 22:47:38-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When it comes to drought, Southern Nevada has consistently been near the top of the list of areas most affected by drought. Water levels at Lake Mead are certainly a big part of it, but that's not all.

United States Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey explains, "We’re looking at everything from groundwater, to streamflow, to reservoir storage. In the winter we are looking at snowpack. Then it goes to precipitation of course. Things that happen above the ground like temperatures and precipitation."

Southern Nevada recently saw an improvement to our drought conditions during monsoon when looking at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

But there is a difference, between a long-term drought and short-term drought and where we have seen improvements is really in the short-term.

"From a summer perspective things are looking too bad. That’s where I kind of get to the point of things looking a little greener if you will than they normally would this time of year because of the robust monsoon. At the same time there is this underlying drought that has not gone away," Rippey said.

So, it’s going to take a lot more than flashy monsoon showers to get rid of the drought.

"Monsoon rains are important. A very important part of the ecosystem in the American Southwest. However, they tend not to greatly boost soil moisture or reservoir storage," says Rippey.

Rippey also explains that we are heading into a third year of a La Nina, a large-scale climate pattern that can help boost summer monsoon. On the other side it’s a signal of a warm and dry winter. Winter and snowpack is the big player when it comes to drought.

The weekly drought monitor will be out tomorrow. You can access it here.