Most of state included in drought advisory
Washington has seen its driest spring in nearly 100 years, prompting the state Department of Ecology to issue a drought advisory for all areas east of the Cascade mountains, portions of southwest Washington and the Washington coast.
According to Ecology, this was the driest March through April since 1926, and the fourth-driest stretch of those months in Washington since 1895.
The Spokane area has been particularly dry, despite recent rain.
“We’re dealing with long-term precipitation deficits which take more than a day’s rain to alleviate,” said Ecology Water Resources Planner Jeff Marti. “For example, the Spokane Airport has experienced the lowest amount of precipitation for the Feb. 1 to May 24 period, going all the way back to 1881. It needs more than 4 inches of rain to get back to normal.”
Marti reported in a news release concerns from farmers and ranchers in eastern Washington about crop stress and expectations for reduced yields.
Washington had an above-normal snowpack over the winter, but ecology noted that not all watersheds are fed by snowmelt and that spring precipitation is important for non-irrigated crops and livestock forage.
To report drought conditions, go to Ecology’s Conditions Monitoring Observation System at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/ff127a29aa23413c9cd2d9e8176c4669.
DNR expands burn restrictions
Dry fuels and warm temperatures forecast for eastern Washington have led the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to add new burn restrictions on DNR-protected lands.
As of late last week, small debris disposal fires, also known as rule burning, are limited to a 4-foot diameter pile in areas including Chelan, Lower Basin, Lower Yakima, Upper Yakima and Upper Basin outside of Spokane County and South of Highway 2.
Campfires are also restricted in some areas near Spokane and in Lincoln County.
A misdemeanor citation could be issued to those who don’t comply with the burn restrictions. Campfires should be doused with water and cool to the touch before being left.