Drought? Dam Crack? Fireworks Safety? Why is the Water Level at Lake Murray So Low?

Alvis Jones looked out over Lake Murray and wasn’t impressed. “It’s dropping,” he said while casting a line into the lake. “Probably, looks like 10, 20 feet.” Jones stood on a metal dock that was floating on the surface of the water considerably lower than usual. “My first thought was evaporation,” said Valerie Weise, who was walking through dirt that should be underwater.

Drought Woes in Dry US West Raise July 4 Fireworks Fears

Many Americans aching for normalcy as pandemic restrictions end are looking forward to traditional Fourth of July fireworks. But with a historic drought in the U.S. West and fears of another devastating wildfire season, officials are canceling displays, passing bans on setting off fireworks or begging for caution.

Fireworks already have caused a few small wildfires, including one started by a child in northern Utah and another in central California. Last year, a pyrotechnic device designed for a baby’s gender reveal celebration sparked a California blaze that killed a firefighter during a U.S. wildfire season that scorched the second-highest amount of land in nearly 40 years.

Some regions of the American West are experiencing their worst drought conditions in more than a century this year, said Jennifer Balch, director of Earth Lab at the University of Colorado.