Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency in Chelan County.
The governor signed an emergency declaration last week affirming reports by the state Department of Ecology that current snow pack and weather conditions will likely lead to a drought this summer, according to a state Department of Ecology news release. The emergency declaration applies to half of the state.
The local watersheds that will be impacted by the drought include Chelan, Entiat and Wenatchee, according to the news release.
The governor can declare an emergency drought when water supply conditions are predicted to be below 75 percent of average.
The snowpack in most of the state is at less than half of average so far for this time of year, the news release states. In the Wenatchee Valley, the snowpack is between 20 to 30 percent of average for this time of year, said Robin Fox, Spokane National Weather Service meteorologist.
It is predicted that the warm and dry weather will continue, causing the remaining snowpack to melt quickly, according to the release.
The Department of Ecology will provide funding for drought response. The 2019 legislature approved $2 million toward drought response.
It’s a surprising turn of events after the Wenatchee Valley received above-average snowfall this past winter.
Recorded snowfall in the Wenatchee Valley measured 35.5 inches this winter, Fox said. The average snowfall for the Wenatchee Valley is about 28 inches.
But the snow fell as light and fluffy with little actual moisture in it, she said. Meteorologists measure the moisture content within the snow to get the snowpack average.
Temperature so far in the Wenatchee Valley have also been near normal so far this spring, Fox said.