Northwest drought could last into 2023

SPOKANE, Wash.– An ongoing drought in the Inland Northwest may end up lasting into next year, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the latest forecasts.

The odds of getting rid of the moderate to severe drought across the Inland Northwest in February 2022 by the end of the year are at less than 30 percent. In Central Washington, from the Okanogan River Basin to the Tri-Cities, the odds are less than ten percent. There’s been some level of drought every week since November 19th, 2019 in this region according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought Timeline

Source: NOAA

4 News Now did an in-depth report at the end of last summer about the extreme drought that had spread across much of the area. It was some of the worst months of dry weather since the 1970s.  Today, a wet fall and early winter cut back the severity of the drought, but it still remains across 91 percent of the Inland Northwest.

The 2021 drought report for the Northwest says that the underlying drought began in the previous year, especially in Central Washington.

Although the exceptionally dry spring and summer and warm summer were likely the main drivers of the drought throughout much of the PNW, longer-term drought in the region also played a role.


Summer is the driest part of the year in the Inland Northwest. Each year that we begin the summer season in a drought is like starting behind in a race. It makes increasingly severe drought, wildfires, and smoke more likely as the season goes on. With high odds for drought to stick around, the odds are also high for another busy fire season in the Northwest and for our neighbors in states to the south.

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