The West’s Devastating Drought Captured in Aerial Photography

·4 min read
Bloomberg
Bloomberg

This year, the Southwest United States has been experiencing gripping heat and unprecedented drought, a cycle of misery more intense than anything recorded in the 20-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. And the dynamic is predicted to only worsen throughout the summer. California reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they usually are this time of year, according to the AP, and large swaths of the country are set up for an exceptionally dangerous wildfire season.

Here, photos show the early devastation from a bird’s eye view.

<div class="inline-image__title">1233529683</div> <div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Vehicles driving on the California 14 Highway as solar panels, part of an electricity generation plant, stand on June 18, 2021 in Kern County near Mojave, California. The California ISO extended a Flex Alert asking customers to conserve electricity amid concerns of power outages during the heat wave. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Patrick T. Fallon/Getty</div>
1233529683

Vehicles driving on the California 14 Highway as solar panels, part of an electricity generation plant, stand on June 18, 2021 in Kern County near Mojave, California. The California ISO extended a Flex Alert asking customers to conserve electricity amid concerns of power outages during the heat wave.

Patrick T. Fallon/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Houseboats whose owners chose to leave them in the lake, float at a water level nearly 200 feet below normal at the Lime Saddle Marina for Lake Oroville near Paradise, Calif., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty</div>

Houseboats whose owners chose to leave them in the lake, float at a water level nearly 200 feet below normal at the Lime Saddle Marina for Lake Oroville near Paradise, Calif., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Boat docks at the Browns Ravine Cove sit on dry earth at Folsom Lake on May 10, 2021 in El Dorado Hills, California. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Justin Sullivan/Getty</div>

Boat docks at the Browns Ravine Cove sit on dry earth at Folsom Lake on May 10, 2021 in El Dorado Hills, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on June 01, 2021 in Oroville, California. As the extreme drought takes hold in California, water levels at reservoirs are falling fast. Lake Oroville is currently at 38 percent of capacity. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Justin Sullivan/Getty</div>

Low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on June 01, 2021 in Oroville, California. As the extreme drought takes hold in California, water levels at reservoirs are falling fast. Lake Oroville is currently at 38 percent of capacity.

Justin Sullivan/Getty
<div class="inline-image__title">1233610710</div> <div class="inline-image__caption"><p>A car travels across Enterprise Bridge above Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Bloomberg/Getty</div>
1233610710

A car travels across Enterprise Bridge above Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Bloomberg/Getty
<div class="inline-image__title">1320365821</div> <div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Rows of almond trees sit on the ground during an orchard removal project on May 26, 2021 in Snelling, California. As the drought emergency takes hold in California, some farmers are having to remove crops that require excessive watering due to a shortage of water in the Central Valley. A Central Valley farmer had 600 acres of his almond orchard removed and shredded and now plans to replace the almonds with a crop the requires less water.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Justin Sullivan/Getty</div>
1320365821

Rows of almond trees sit on the ground during an orchard removal project on May 26, 2021 in Snelling, California. As the drought emergency takes hold in California, some farmers are having to remove crops that require excessive watering due to a shortage of water in the Central Valley. A Central Valley farmer had 600 acres of his almond orchard removed and shredded and now plans to replace the almonds with a crop the requires less water.

Justin Sullivan/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Grounds marked with previous water levels at Oroville Lake in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images"</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Bloomberg</div>

Grounds marked with previous water levels at Oroville Lake in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images"

Bloomberg
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Mineral-stained rocks are shown at Echo Bay on June 21, 2021 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that Lake Mead, North America's largest artificial reservoir, dropped to just over 1,070 feet above sea level over the weekend, the lowest it's been since being filled in 1937 after the construction of the Hoover Dam.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit"> Ethan Miller/Getty</div>

Mineral-stained rocks are shown at Echo Bay on June 21, 2021 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that Lake Mead, North America's largest artificial reservoir, dropped to just over 1,070 feet above sea level over the weekend, the lowest it's been since being filled in 1937 after the construction of the Hoover Dam.

Ethan Miller/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>A closed boat ramp at Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty</div>

A closed boat ramp at Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty
<div class="inline-image__title">1320208440</div> <div class="inline-image__caption"><p>A tractor kicks up dust as it plows a dry field on May 26, 2021 in Chowchilla, California. As California enters an extreme drought emergency, water is starting to become scarce in California's Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Justin Sullivan/Getty</div>
1320208440

A tractor kicks up dust as it plows a dry field on May 26, 2021 in Chowchilla, California. As California enters an extreme drought emergency, water is starting to become scarce in California's Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

Justin Sullivan/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Steep banks surround boats on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty</div>

Steep banks surround boats on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Steep banks marked with previous water lines surround boats on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty</div>

Steep banks marked with previous water lines surround boats on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>This undated file photo shows the dam at Elephant Butte Lake in Elephant Butte, N.M. Many New Mexico communities are behind the curve when it comes to investing in drinking water infrastructure as persistent drought threatens supplies, and the state's fragmented funding process makes it hard to know what taxpayers are getting for their money, legislative analysts said Wednesday, June 23, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP</div>

This undated file photo shows the dam at Elephant Butte Lake in Elephant Butte, N.M. Many New Mexico communities are behind the curve when it comes to investing in drinking water infrastructure as persistent drought threatens supplies, and the state's fragmented funding process makes it hard to know what taxpayers are getting for their money, legislative analysts said Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal via AP
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on April 27, 2021 in Oroville, California. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Justin Sullivan/Getty</div>

Low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on April 27, 2021 in Oroville, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty
<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>The floodgates of the completely dry Berenda Reservoir in Chowchilla, California, U.S., on Monday, June 21, 2021. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty</div>

The floodgates of the completely dry Berenda Reservoir in Chowchilla, California, U.S., on Monday, June 21, 2021.

Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty
<div class="inline-image__title">1233610870</div> <div class="inline-image__caption"><p>"Steep banks surround a boat as it travels on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Almost three-fourths of the western U.S. is gripped by drought so severe that its off the charts of anything recorded in the 20-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images"</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Bloomberg</div>
1233610870

"Steep banks surround a boat as it travels on Oroville Lake during low water levels in Oroville, California, U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Almost three-fourths of the western U.S. is gripped by drought so severe that its off the charts of anything recorded in the 20-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images"

Bloomberg

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!

Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting