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Drought conditions expected to persist despite recent rains

2021 drought declaration
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared droughts in the shaded counties. Map effective Nov. 17, 2021.

Most of Oregon continues to be in a drought, and recent rains have done little to change the outlook. That was the message Wednesday to a panel of lawmakers in Salem.

The House Interim Committee on Water heard stories from farmers and municipal water managers about how the state’s ongoing drought has affected them. Climatologists say Oregon’s current drought ranks among the worst in the state’s history.

“In 16 out of the last 22 years, Oregon has received below average precipitation statewide. So if it has seemed like Oregon has been drier than normal, it sure has been," said Larry O’Neill, director of Oregon Climate Services at Oregon State University. "And the last two years have been well below normal, so this really makes this a multi-year drought.”

While parts of western Oregon received several inches of rain last week, O’Neill said in and of itself that isn’t enough to lift the region out of a drought. It will take sustained precipitation and cool temperatures to turn the corner.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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