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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.

Confirmed Cases: 42436

Reported Deaths: 655
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9228160
Marion5858108
Washington579076
Umatilla335444
Clackamas313965
Lane239227
Malheur191738
Jackson16846
Deschutes113213
Yamhill99415
Linn81015
Polk65415
Jefferson6049
Morrow5456
Lincoln51713
Union4672
Benton4426
Klamath4113
Douglas3506
Wasco34715
Hood River2771
Josephine2673
Columbia2661
Coos2460
Clatsop2430
Baker1203
Crook1092
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa442
Lake370
Harney230
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 910438

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3006147000
Riverside667321295
San Bernardino627741072
Orange587251447
San Diego54941870
Kern33881416
Fresno30858436
Sacramento25445484
Santa Clara24313388
Alameda23391461
San Joaquin21630489
Contra Costa18694242
Stanislaus17686397
Tulare17495286
Ventura14300164
Imperial12882336
San Francisco12152140
Monterey1139991
San Mateo11149159
Santa Barbara9814120
Merced9465155
Sonoma9402136
Kings824683
Solano738476
Marin7089128
Madera502074
Placer417857
San Luis Obispo414132
Yolo320759
Butte308752
Santa Cruz280225
Napa196215
Shasta188930
Sutter183712
San Benito144215
El Dorado13284
Yuba129310
Mendocino112921
Tehama8808
Lassen7661
Lake69515
Glenn6573
Nevada6168
Humboldt56710
Colusa5506
Calaveras34218
Amador33016
Tuolumne2714
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1930
Mono1802
Del Norte1781
Mariposa782
Plumas680
Modoc290
Trinity260
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
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Brookings
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