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Get drought ready: New Extension website offers tips for dry year

(Photo by Olga Kutnyakova/WSU)
(Photo by Olga Kutnyakova/WSU)

Washington’s residents, farmers and foresters can find ways to survive the state’s current drought with help from the just-launched WSU Extension Drought Website.

The new drought website (http://drought.wsu.edu) shares timely updates and a wealth of water conservation information to help people deal with a dry year – and perhaps beyond. The site was developed by WSU Agricultural Weather Network Program (AgWeatherNet) and WSU Extension.

“We are all dependent on our waters,” said Gerrit Hoogenboom, AgWeatherNet director. “The long range weather outlook continues to suggest enhanced odds of warmer and perhaps drier than normal conditions for Washington through early 2016.”

On the site, farmers, ranchers, homeowners, foresters and the general public can find research-based publications, drought updates, useful links and news on drought-related issues. Topics covered include conservation tips for the home and garden, irrigation management, forestry, crops and livestock.  For example, farmers can learn how to irrigate more efficiently, foresters can find out how drought affects trees, and families can discover home water-saving methods.

A Drought Basics page helps residents understand what happens in a drought. There’s also a Washington Drought Twitter feed, where you can sign up to follow updates, and a link to AgWeatherNet, which operates 160 automated weather stations in Washington and Oregon and helps farmers plan and react to weather.

Drought begins

The current drought began last winter. Although Washington had average to above-average precipitation this year, snowpack has been significantly lower due to higher-than-normal temperatures. This in turn affects water supplies for irrigation that depend on melting snowpack throughout the summer and early fall. According to AgWeatherNet, Washington may not only be facing a low water-supply situation, but also higher demand, since water may evaporate more in warmer, drier conditions.

Link to more information

• Learn more and sign up for WSU Extension Drought Website updates at http://drought.wsu.edu.

• Learn more about AgWeatherNet and follow weather updates at http://www.weather.wsu.edu.

Media Contacts

Bob Simmons, WSU Extension Water Resources Program Leader, (360) 379-5610 ext-207
Nic Loyd, AgWeatherNet Meteorologist, (509) 786-9357
Gerrit Hoogenboom, AgWeatherNet Director, (509) 786-9371