Low snowpacks, unusually high temperatures and below-normal rainfall have all contributed to the renewed development of extreme and exceptional drought in many portions of the Southwest and California.
Scientists and public officials attribute the drought to climate change. Climatologists expect the drought to worsen during the upcoming summer months and lead to increased wildfires and other problems. Agriculture in California has been particularly affected, and water restrictions to preserve endangered fish are again in a harsh spotlight.
Drought conditions had lessened since a severe drought affected the region five years ago and led to aggressive rationing and water-conservation measures, but this prolonged dry spell could be even worse.
Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., is at its lowest level in 85 years and is emblematic of the growing crisis.
"The lake, which sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona, is under growing pressure from the prolonged drought, climate change and growing population in the Southwest," The Times reported.