Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state-wide drought emergency this week. It’s one of two states in our region that were especially hard-hit this year.
Peter Goble is a drought specialist with Colorado State University. He said the droughts affecting Utah and Colorado come down to two things.
“That one-two punch of at or near record low snowpack in western Colorado and eastern Utah followed up by the hot and dry summer has made the 2018 drought historic,” Goble said.
It was Utah’s driest year on record and Colorado’s second since records were collected in the late 1800s.
Goble said while seasons vary from year to year, climate change is playing a part over the long term.
“We’re definitely setting more highest temperature records than lowest temperature records,” he said.
If the warming trend keeps up it will continue to increase evaporation, he said, and it will be felt more in a dry year like this one.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.