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Washington Governor Declares Statewide 'Snowpack Drought'

The Washington Department of Ecology released a USDA map to show snowpack levels in advance of Gov. Jay Inslee's declaration of a "snowpack drought."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency due to low snowpack Friday.

“It's really different than anything we've ever experienced,” Inslee said. “Impacts are already severe in several areas of the state. Difficult decisions are being made about what crops get priority water and how best to save fish.”

Inslee's office announced that more than a billion dollars in crops could be lost and that wildfires pose a severe threat as the forecasters anticipate a dry summer.

Inslee noted that while most households will have adequate drinking water, farms and fish could suffer throughout the state with rivers flowing at low levels due to historically low snowpack.

Maia Bellon of the Washington Department of Ecology told reporters one of the state's highest priorities is to get water to farmers in the Yakima Basin.

"It's our richest agricultural region in the state and our highest at-risk area for this drought," Bellon said.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.