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The Bears Ears Mountains outside of Blanding, Utah, in April 2021. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) issued a declaration on Thursday that urges residents to pray for rain as the state experiences record drought.

Why it matters: At least 90% of the state is currently experiencing "extreme" to "exceptional" drought, the two worst categories, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

What he's saying: "I've already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets and planting water-wise landscapes. But I fear those efforts alone won't be enough to protect us," Cox said in a video.

  • “We need more rain, and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer June 4 through the 6th," the governor added.
  • Cox has issued two drought emergency orders so far this year.

Thought bubble, via Axios climate reporter Andrew Freedman: Like most of the West, Utah is locked in the grips of a brutal drought that's likely to worsen as the summer heat kicks in.

  • Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of such events. Right now, more of the U.S. is in the most severe drought categories than at any time so far this century.

The big picture: The Colorado River and its tributaries are approaching record-low flows this year, and the drought in the Colorado River basin, which includes Utah, could be the worst it has seen in 1,200 years, according to Bloomberg.

  • Water levels are getting so low in Lake Mead, on the Colorado River, that they're likely to trigger a rare water shortage declaration, which would prompt cuts in water deliveries to several thirsty states, especially Arizona.

Go deeper: Southwest's new climate peril

Go deeper

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.

At least one person killed, 99 missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by midafternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Biden strikes infrastructure deal with bipartisan group of senators

President Biden announced Thursday that he had agreed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan with a bipartisan group of ten senators, declaring: "We have a deal."

Why it matters: The agreement on the size and scope of an infrastructure package is a major achievement for Biden, who has long been a proponent of bipartisanship, but the compromise still faces serious hurdles in the House and Senate.