More than half of Oregon is experiencing moderate to severe drought, according to a state report released Monday.
Several streams along the coast and in western Oregon are measuring record low flows. Southwestern and central Oregon measured the lowest July precipitation it’s ever recorded, according to the Oregon Water Resources Department’s report for July.
About 52% of the state was in drought that month, up from 49% in June. The report shows a stark turn from this year’s spring, when snowmelt and heavier-than-usual rain helped alleviate drought in much of the state, particularly western Oregon.
Gov. Tina Kotek has declared drought emergencies for nine Oregon counties so far this year. Those declarations open up state resources to counties that need help.
Dry conditions are making matters worse for regions battling wildfires. Rain in the spring helped plants grow fast, then an extremely dry summer dried them out. That’s left plenty of fuel to burn.
Conditions are particularly bad in Lane County. Much of the county is experiencing severe drought and some people have had to evacuate from the Bedrock and Lookout fires burning in the Willamette National Forest east of Eugene.
As of Monday afternoon, the Bedrock Fire had burned across about 19,300 acres. The Lookout Fire had burned across about 1,200 acres around three miles north of the McKenzie Bridge.
The National Weather Service has also issued excessive heat advisories for most of Oregon west of the Cascades. The agency said areas in the Willamette Valley from Salem to Eugene could reach between 105 and 110 degrees Monday.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the location of the Bedrock and Lookout fires. They are burning east of Eugene. OPB regrets the error.