National weather and wildfire experts say the American Southwest is the region hardest hit by drought as many areas have received just a fraction of their normal precipitation while temperatures have climbed.
Climatologists provided an update on the situation in the Four Corners region — where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. They say the area is among the hardest hit and there’s little relief expected, and even robust summer rains might not be enough to replenish the soil and ease the fire danger.
The area is dealing with the worst category of drought. The head of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation resumed pressure on states in the Southwest to wrap up long-delayed emergency plans for potential shortages on the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the U.S. and Mexico.
In New Mexico, stretches of the Rio Grande have gone dry.
Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska, said people are become more aware and more concerned.
“We’ve been on this pattern where conditions have dried out, we haven’t seen much relief through last summer or into the winter months and here we are going into the summer of 2018 with over two-thirds of the region already in drought,” he said. “So that’s alarming to say the least.”