When we think “drought,” we think California, or just a couple of years ago, Texas, or the American Southwest generally. We don’t think, “Alabama.” Until this story popped up on my screen, I wasn’t aware of a drought in Alabama.
Excerpt from the Huffington Post story:
Alabama is in the midst of the worst drought in at least a decade, though anecdotally, many say it’s the most severe in modern memory. More than 98 percent of the state is now suffering drought conditions, with parts of the northeast and east-central Alabama enduring “exceptional drought” ― the worst possible kind. Rivers and streams have run dry, wildlife have perished, and raging wildfires have consumed more than 12,000 acres of land statewide.
Forecasters said this week that the drought is showing no signs of abating. Alabama will likely experience not a wet, but a drier than usual winter this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency said the drought is expected to persist through Jan. 31, bringing worsening conditions to areas already in the grips of a crisis. It’s anticipated that drought will consume the entire state by year’s end.
With climate change promising to bring more frequent and intense droughts and wildfires in the coming decades, local activists and water management experts say the ongoing drought is a foreshadowing of “scary” things to come.
The current emergency has also cast a harsh spotlight on the state’s abject failure to prepare for times of drought crisis, they say.
Alabama has been dubbed “America’s Amazon.” It has the most navigable water channels in the country and boasts the most freshwater biodiversity. So dead and dying rivers and streams can spell disaster for ecosystems, as well as local communities living near water bodies and industries relying on these water channels for survival.
Drought also severely threatens the health of wildlife populations, including threatened species. Other than being one of America’s most biodiverse states, Alabama is also home to the third-largest number of endangered species in the country, including aquatic creatures like fish, freshwater mussels and crayfish.
The climate and the current weather pattern is creating the drought. But the state’s government isn’t helping the situation: