In Utah drought, 'exceptionally dry' is no longer exceptional

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 19:43:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY — It may sound obvious, but the word "exceptional" is reserved for things that are an exception.

In Utah, the exception has become the rule.

Sixty-two percent of the state is "exceptionally dry" — the highest category of drought meteorologists currently use.

READ: As Utah's drought gets worse, some cities threaten fines and shutoffs for water wasters

Available records show 2020 and 2021 have the 29 driest weeks on record this century (which is the extent of records offered on the national wildfire info website). The 30th driest week was a July in 2003 with 33% of the state exceptionally dry.

Those dry fuels put the state at higher risk of wildfire than at any point this century, and likely much of the previous century.

Drought is a regional threat, of course, with California suffering far and away the most in terms of lives lost and property destroyed, and the most threatened states in the country are all in the west, with Oklahoma the only outlier entirely east of the Rocky Mountains.