The year 2020 is going to be remembered for a lot of things, many of them not so good. Included in the not-so-good list is the drought that has plagued the West, lasting into 2021. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which has published weekly maps since 2000, the 2020 drought is the worst, in terms of its geographical scope, in more than 20 years. Almost 80 percent of the Western U.S. is in drought, with nearly 42 percent of the region in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.

Much of the region experienced developing drought in the summer, following a warm and dry spring. Since then, conditions have deteriorated, and the precipitation deficits continue to build. At its maximum extent in January 2021, 47 percent of the West was in extreme drought or worse. Nearly a quarter of the area was in the worst drought category, an event with a probability frequency of once every 50 to 100 years.

February did bring an active weather pattern with it. The Pacific Northwest received more than 10 inches of precipitation last month. Much of the interior Rockies through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado received between 1 and 5 inches of moisture for the month. The Sierra Nevada in California received between 2 and 6 inches, much of that in the form of snow.

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However, despite the precipitation, some areas are still struggling. Blue outlines in the map below show where snowpack increased last month. The Southwest was much drier in February.