The Southwest is suffering through one of its worst droughts on record amid a critical reduction in the amount of water from snowpack runoff.

Roughly 9.8% of the U.S. is currently in what climate experts refer to as exceptional drought, the most severe designation, which is characterized by widespread crop and pasture losses and shortages in reservoirs, streams and wells amounting to water emergencies. About 44% of the nation is experiencing some level of drought, with a further 13% currently affected by drier-than-normal conditions.

Reduced snowmelt is one of several factors that contribute to drought conditions, along with dry weather, warmer temperatures and population growth, which puts added strain on water resources.

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