Almost two-thirds of the country experienced abnormally dry conditions, marking the highest mid-March level in almost two decades. Nearly half of the U.S. was experiencing moderate or worse drought conditions. Precipitation levels across the West were far below average.
In California, where residents and industries depend on water reserves, state reservoirs were nearly half empty. In the Colorado River Basin, snowpack began melting before its anticipated seasonal start date. Water cuts were expected. Well before summer set in, officials were warning of another disastrous—and expensive—wildfire season.
For TIME magazine, this project explores the impact of a warming planet in the critical areas of the U.S.