Jackson, Curry, Klamath counties all under drought emergency declarations

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing throughout Oregon, drought concerns have been growing in the southwestern state's southern counties.

Posted: May 8, 2020 10:56 AM
Updated: May 8, 2020 11:31 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Multiple southern Oregon counties are under a drought emergency declaration from Governor Kate Brown as of May 8, and more are likely to join them.

So far, Klamath, Jackson, and Curry counties have received the drought declaration from Governor Brown, but Coos County has requested the same. In California, Siskiyou County has also requested a drought emergency declaration from Governor Gavin Newsom.


(Photo courtesy US Geological Survey)

"Drought conditions arrived early and have persisted, including reduced snowpack, precipitation, and subsequent minimal streamflow," Brown's declaration for Jackson County reads. "The long-term forecast for the region continues for warmer than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation. These conditions have had significant economic impact on agriculture, timber, and recreational industries in Jackson County."

While Jackson and Curry counties received their declarations over the past several weeks, Klamath County reached it at the end of February. The scramble for irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake has already inflamed near-yearly conflicts between irrigators, tribes, and the federal government.

"Even under the best of circumstances, water availability is severely limited. If there is not a dramatic reduction in demand, the Project will likely run out of water altogether within the next two months, if not sooner," the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents irrigators in the Klamath Basin, posted on Facebook Thursday. "There are discussions occurring among tribes, agencies and KWUA about how to deal with these issues. Right now, we do not know what decisions will come out of this."

The U.S. Drought Monitor finds extreme drought conditions in western Siskiyou County, southwest Jackson County, most of Josephine County, and northeastern Curry County. 

"Much of the rest of these counties, along with Klamath Counties, are in D2 — severe drought," the National Weather Service says. "As of today, the SWE — snow water equivalent — for the Rogue and Umpqua basins is around 45 percent of normal. The SWE for the Klamath Basin is 34 percent of normal. Much of the precipitation came early in the water year. With above normal temperatures being common through the winter, the snow pack has suffered."

Drought emergency declarations allow local agencies and residents access to resources to help offset the economic impact of the dry conditions — including the possibility of federal disaster loans for farmers and other people that rely on an adequate water supply for their livelihoods.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4852216

Reported Deaths: 71350
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148510526549
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3678574183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
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