UTAH (ABC4) – The drought in the U.S. is expected to get worse this spring, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) seasonal outlook released in March.

The “megadrought,” as experts are calling it, is poised to only get worse, as forecasters predict “prolonged, persistent drought in the West where below-average precipitation is most likely.”

The NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center also forecasts above-average temperatures for most of the U.S. from the “Desert Southwest to the East Coast and north through the Midwest to the Canadian border.”

The forecast warns of dire conditions to come such as “severe to exceptional drought,” with dry conditions bringing an elevated risk for wildfires across the Southwest and southern Plains to north in the Central plains, especially when high winds are present.

Jon Gottschalck of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center states, “With nearly 60% of the continental U.S. experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions, this is the largest drought coverage we’ve seen in the U.S. since 2013.”

A study shown in Nature Climate Change reveals the period from 2000 to 2021 was the driest in 1,200 years, with last year’s drought severity considered “exceptional.”

The National Weather Service states that as of Wednesday, April 27, a “prolonged period of elevated to critical fire weather conditions are expected the next few days from the Southwest U.S. to the southern High Plains. These conditions are from strong winds and low relative humidity values over dry fuels and conditions.”

Currently, 99.39 percent of Utah is experiencing severe drought or worse, with 43.46 percent of Utah in extreme drought.

For more information on current weather trends, click here.