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Pacific Northwest drought eases, with the exception of Central Oregon

A map of the western U.S., colored to show levels of drought
Experts say reservoirs in Central Oregon are also below average capacity

Experts agree it’s been an exceptionally wet, cold and snowy few months in Oregon.

NOAA scientists said the recent atmospheric rivers, and below average temperatures, have nearly erased many regional drought conditions.

Joseph Casola, NOAA’s Western Climate Services Director, said before the rain year began, over 96 percent of the west was in drought.

“Now we have only about half of the west in some stage of drought," he told a gathering of researchers on May 9, "and most of that is either in ‘D-zero’ abnormally dry or ‘D1,’ moderate drought. That extreme or exceptional drought only covers about one percent of the land area.”

That one percent includes portions of Central Oregon, where Governor Tina Kotek has declared drought emergencies.

Forecasters said the current La Nina pattern is expected to transition to El Nino. That means above normal temperatures for Oregon, and average precipitation in our area.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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