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Kayakers at a boat launch ramp Page, Arizona, on July 3, which was made unusable by record low water levels at Lake Powell as the drought continues to worsen near. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

What's happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen to 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial lake on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Utah's Great Salt Lake, the biggest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, saw levels plunge in the south roughly an inch below the previous record low of 4,191.4ft above sea level, set in 1963, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Saturday.
  • Wildlife is already suffering from the decline, birds and shrimp in particular.

Threat level: Utah Department of Natural Resources executive director Brian Steed noted in a statement that while the state's lake has been gradually declining for some time, "current drought conditions have accelerated its fall to this new historic low."

  • USGS Utah Water Science Center data chief Ryan Rowland wrote that based on current trends and historical data, it's anticipated that "water levels may decline an additional foot over the next several months."
  • A major threat to Lake Powell, on the Utah-Arizona border line, is that demand for water across seven U.S. and two Mexican states "that rely on the Colorado River has not declined fast enough to match the reduced supply," noted Brad Udall, a climate scientist at Colorado State University, to Cronkite News.
  • "The hard lesson we're learning about climate change is that it’s not a gradual, slow descent to a new state of affairs," Udall added.

The big picture: Lakes across the country are under strain from a mega-drought.

  • 95% of the West is experiencing drought conditions — and over 28% is facing exceptional drought, according to the U.S. drought monitor.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker