Some features of this site are not compatible with your browser. Install Opera Mini to better experience this site.

Drought in the Western United States

Sierra Snowpack Bigger Than Last Four Years Combined
Image

Sierra Snowpack Bigger Than Last Four Years Combined

NASA airborne snow surveys provide key information for California water managers.

Image of the Day Land Floods Snow and Ice Remote Sensing

California Reservoirs Rise from Drought to Deluge
Image

California Reservoirs Rise from Drought to Deluge

Reservoirs, lakes, and mountainsides are brimming with water and snow, though scientists caution that underground aquifers are a long way from having the same bounty.

Image of the Day Land Life Water Floods Snow and Ice

A California Desert Erupts in Wildflowers
Image

A California Desert Erupts in Wildflowers

From space, a hint of green betrayed the revival of plant life.

Image of the Day Land Life Floods

Astronauts Snap a Photo of Oroville Dam
Image

Astronauts Snap a Photo of Oroville Dam

The International Space Station got a view of the overflowing dam.

Water Floods Human Presence

Sediment Pours into Monterey Bay
Image

Sediment Pours into Monterey Bay

Heavy rains discolored the waters off the coast of California in late February.

Land Water Floods

Abundant Snowpack Blankets the Sierra Nevada
Image

Abundant Snowpack Blankets the Sierra Nevada

The water stored as snow in the 400-mile long range is now 185 percent of normal for the beginning of March.

Image of the Day Land Drought Snow and Ice Remote Sensing

River in the Sky Keeps Flowing Over the West
Image

River in the Sky Keeps Flowing Over the West

Atmospheric rivers from the Pacific have soaked California and other western states with more than twice the usual amount of rain.

Image of the Day Atmosphere Drought

Drought Turns to Deluge in California
Image

Drought Turns to Deluge in California

A series of winter storms have pushed reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley to the brim—and one dam to the breaking point.

Image of the Day Land Water Drought Human Presence

Drought Continues to Grip Southern California
Image

Drought Continues to Grip Southern California

While autumn rains offered some relief to Northern California, drought still reigns in the southern part of the state.

Image of the Day Heat Land Water Drought

Quantifying Tree Loss in Sierra National Forest
Image

Quantifying Tree Loss in Sierra National Forest

Mass tree die-offs in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains are sparking worries of fire in the region.

Image of the Day Land Drought Remote Sensing

Sierra Nevada Snowpack is Better, but Not Normal
Image

Sierra Nevada Snowpack is Better, but Not Normal

El Niño brought more rain and snow to California this winter, but not enough to offset the water deficit built up over four years.

Image of the Day Water Drought Snow and Ice World of Change

Water Levels Rise on Shasta Lake
Image

Water Levels Rise on Shasta Lake

After four years of shrinking due to drought, the largest reservoir in California got a much-needed boost from El Niño-fueled winter precipitation.

Image of the Day Water Drought Human Presence

Goose Lake Dries Up
Image

Goose Lake Dries Up

Drought conditions have dried this closed-basin lake straddling the California-Oregon border, but it’s not the first time.

Image of the Day Land Water Drought

Diminished Snow Pack in the Sierra Nevada
Image

Diminished Snow Pack in the Sierra Nevada

Snow cover in late March 2015 was significantly lower than the previous worst year on record. The landscape change is stark since 2010, the last time the region saw average snowfall.

Image of the Day Water Drought Snow and Ice

California Landscape is Mix of Green and Brown
Image

California Landscape is Mix of Green and Brown

December rains and groundwater pumping keep vegetation looking green amidst a deep drought.

Image of the Day Land Life Drought Remote Sensing

Drought Persists in the American Southwest
Image

Drought Persists in the American Southwest

More than 64 million people are directly affected by drought in the Southwest and Southern Plains, and far more are indirectly affected because of the vast number of farms, orchards, and ranches that supply the rest of the United States.

Image of the Day Land Life Water Drought

Unusual July Temperatures
Image

Unusual July Temperatures

If you live in the northern hemisphere, the past few weeks have been strange. In places where it should be seasonably hot, it’s just warm. In places where weather is usually mild in the summer, it has been ridiculously hot.

Image of the Day Heat Land Temperature Extremes

An Infrared View of California Drought
Image

An Infrared View of California Drought

Two reservoirs in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada show the effects of long-term drought.

Image of the Day Land Life Water Drought

Lake Mead Still Shrinking
Image

Lake Mead Still Shrinking

Ongoing drought and diminished snowpack in the Rockies have combined with increasing demands downstream to cause the great reservoir to drop to historically low levels.

Image of the Day Water Drought

Groundwater Deficit Out West
Image

Groundwater Deficit Out West

Dry conditions at the surface in the continental United States are mirrored underground in many places.

Image of the Day Land Water Drought Human Presence

The Golden-Brown State
Image

The Golden-Brown State

The typically green valleys and snow-covered mountains of California have grown dusty after three years of drought.

Image of the Day Land Life Water Drought

Drought Stressing California’s Plantscape
Image

Drought Stressing California’s Plantscape

Nearly all of California was in a state of extreme drought at the end of January 2014. Forests and farms clearly showed the effects in satellite measurements of vegetation.

Image of the Day Land Life Floods

All Dry on the Western Front
Image

All Dry on the Western Front

From brown landscapes to the largely snow-free mountains, California is startlingly dry in the view from space, a result of a serious drought that has prompted a state of emergency.

Image of the Day Land Water Drought World of Change

The Naked Mountain
Image

The Naked Mountain

Mount Shasta is usually snow-capped. But this winter, it is a lot more brown than white, as drought deepens in California.

Image of the Day Land Drought Snow and Ice World of Change