Drought returns to California, spreads in southern Plains, says forecast

Little precipitation has fallen during California’s traditional wet season, so drought is likely across the state during the spring, said the National Weather Service. Drought was also expected to expand in Texas and the southern Plains, a key region for winter wheat.

California snowpack ‘far below average’ as wet season winds down

With one month left in what are California’s three wettest months of the year, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is at 27 percent of average for the start of February, said the state Department of Water Resources.

Climate change could kill half of California’s vegetation

Research by UC-Davis says that half of California’s vegetation is at risk of dying from global warming by the end of the century, reported Capital Public Radio.

Dry winter creates wildfire hazard in central and southern Plains

There is a higher than usual risk of wildfire through April in the central and southern Plains, said Kansas State University scientists and the National Interagency Coordination Center, which studies wildfire risks.

Snow drought in western U.S. raises concerns about water supply

Snowpack in parts of the Rocky Mountains is at record lows because of warmer than usual weather, “raising concerns about water supplies and economic damage,” says Inside Climate News.

Climate and culture change threaten New Mexico’s ancient irrigation canals

For hundreds of years, a network of earthen canals that ribbon through New Mexico have been central to a thriving small-farm scene and a communal way of life. But those canals, called acequias, and the way of life they support, are being pushed to the brink by a changing climate, a development boom, and the imperatives of the modern economy, says Alexis Adams in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)

UN official says 8.4 million Yemenis ‘a step away from famine’

The Saudi-led blockade of ports into Yemen "is limiting supplies of fuel, food and medicines," said a senior UN official in the country. "The lives of millions of people, including 8.4 million Yemenis who are a step away from famine, hinge on our ability to continue our operations and to provide health, safe water, food, shelter and nutrition support." The statement by humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick follows an assessment by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) that there is a credible risk of famine in 2018 in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.

Ogallala aquifer disappearing at faster rate than ever

The Ogallala aquifer shrank twice as fast in the last six years as it did in the previous 60, largely from over-pumping on farms, reports The Associated Press. The aquifer — a key source of irrigation water for farms in eight states — lost 10.7 million acre-feet of storage between 2013 and 2015, drying up streambeds, undermining fish species and threatening the farmers who rely on Ogallala for their crops.

Midwest farmers uproot FDR’s ‘Great Wall of Trees’

Midwestern farmers, seeking to expand their crop lands, are destroying millions of trees that helped protect the region's soil after the catastrophic Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The removal of these trees is expected to worsen the impact of a drought that could come as climate warms the region, says Carson Vaughn in FERN’s story with Weather.com.

California wildfires char wine country, hit dairy farms

Driven by "diablo" winds, massive wildfires burned hundreds of buildings, including three wineries, and tens of thousands of acres in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, reports the Wine Spectator. Dairy farms and produce growers with crops ripe for fall harvest also were in peril, "but moving farm animals is another story," said the San Francisco Chronicle.