"Despite several recent drenching rainstorms in the West and enough snow to top the second story of some buildings, the United States has tied an alarming drought record: At least 40% of the Lower 48 has gone 68 straight weeks -- more than 17 months -- in drought conditions.
Drought was present in nearly 55% of the contiguous US this week, according to the US Drought Monitor. The last time drought has been so widespread for so long was October 2013. And without significant and unprecedented precipitation over the next seven days, the country will be in uncharted drought territory and break that record outright.
Almost all of the US drought is located west of the Mississippi River, with extraordinarily dry conditions in far Western states, which scientists warn is a consequence of the climate crisis. Much of the West's drought is actually a long-term phenomenon, persisting from year to year without enough precipitation to lead to a full recovery, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the US Department of Agriculture.
"The Southwest has been experiencing what many scientists have termed a 'megadrought' for about two decades," Rippey told CNN."