The megadrought hitting the western United States has yielded no shortage of horror stories to start the dry season. Record heat last week has seared in drought, turning the region from an already well-done steak into a charred crisp. Almond growers are ripping up orchards, and 17 million endangered salmon are being shipped to the sea because rivers are too hot to navigate. Horror stories abound.
But the toll of the megadrought is perhaps most visible in the state of reservoirs across the West, from California to Utah. Lake Mead hit a record low, touching a level not seen since the Hoover Dam was constructed. The images of boat docks sitting on now-dry land are visceral, but so too are the state of the West’s reservoirs from space.
The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite has captured astounding images of the West’s reservoirs. Earther has taken snapshots from 2020 and 2021 of a number of reservoirs in California as well as Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest manmade reservoirs in the West, which millions depend on. These shocking images show how quickly water supplies have deteriorated, and the risks facing the region as the dry season ramps up.