When summer began this year, signs weren’t good for water in the Willamette River Basin.

Record low snow packs had already melted, spring precipitation was well below average, and — for some cities — it had been the hottest June on record.

By the time summer was over, the Detroit Lake Reservoir had dried up to an unprecedented level. And according to the Department of Agriculture, Oregon is still experiencing severe drought.

L122, one of the newest members of the Southern Resident Community of orcas, spotted Sept. 7 near Sooke, British Columbia.
Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research

Puget Sound's endangered resident orcas have welcomed yet another new addition.

The Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor confirmed news of the baby whale on its Facebook page over the weekend. They have designated it as J-53.

Spawning Coho salmon.
Flickr Photo/BLM Oregon (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1ib9a9C

David Hyde speaks with Bob Anderson, director of the UW Native American Law Center, about why Western Washington tribes are suing the state over culverts that block salmon. 

As it contines to move across Mexico, Patricia has lost most of its strength. It is now a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.

“When it comes to coal, here at Crow you’re not going to have controversy,” said Darrin Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow tribe. Two years ago, he signed an agreement giving Cloud Peak Energy — one of the nation’s biggest coal companies — an option to lease 1.4 billion tons of coal on the reservation. He argued the jobs and revenue the agreement will provide are essential to his community.

A new study suggests that Puget Sound shellfish producers could expand some of their operations without significantly affecting the environment.

Researchers undertook the study to determine what would happen if more areas along Puget Sound were devoted to the farming of giant geoduck clams.

Rising demand from China is driving the push to expand Puget Sound aquaculture. Some residents are opposed to increased shellfish farming.

On Thursday morning, Patricia was a relatively small Category 1 hurricane. By Friday afternoon, it was the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Is climate change to blame for this record-breaking storm's ferocious rise?

The answer is complex, and shows why it's so hard to tie a single weather event to global warming.

Howard Lake, north of Stehekin in Washington's North Cascades.
Courtesy of Mike Annee

A lake in the North Cascades should be renamed Howard Lake after a black prospector, the National Park Service said Thursday afternoon in a reversal of its position.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

The National Hurricane Center says the eye of Hurricane Patricia has made landfall near Cuixmala on Mexico's southwestern Pacific coast. Its winds were measured at 165 mph, somewhat weakened but still a Category 5 storm capable of catastrophic damage.

Our original post continues:

Vancouver Port Candidates Differ On Oil Terminal

Oct 22, 2015

Voters in Vancouver, Washington, will elect a new port commissioner next month. The results could affect the future of a proposed oil terminal.

The terminal, called the Vancouver Energy Project, has deeply divided the region. And it has defined the race for the next Port of Vancouver commissioner.

This year, tens of thousands of dollars have poured into an election that since 2009 has traditionally seen candidates running unopposed.

Wilderness advocates delivered more than 30,000 petitions to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore) Portland office Tuesday in support of designating Crater Lake and the surrounding area as protected wilderness.

The proposed boundaries for the Crater Lake Wilderness would make the National Park into a 75-mile, 500,000-acre corridor of protected area.

That's two-and-a-half times the size of the current park.

Wilderness designations are used to limit human activity, and can even include bans on motorized vehicles.

Killer whale biologists used a hexacopter drone last month to capture stunning, overhead photos of every single member of the endangered Puget Sound orca population.

On St. Paul Island in Alaska's Pribilofs, this is no empty slogan. The health of the islands' bird populations might depend on keeping rats away.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

Biologists and tribal officials in the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska are working to protect one of the world's greatest gatherings of seabirds.

With a little unwilling help from wharf rats in Alaska's Dutch Harbor, the nation's busiest fishing port, they aim to keep rats as far away as Seattle from devouring the birds of the rat-free Pribilof Islands.

The parade of fast-food companies promising to sell meat from animals that never received antibiotics just got significantly longer. Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich chain, is following the lead of Chipotle, Panera, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds, with its promise Tuesday that its meat suppliers gradually will go antibiotic-free.

KUOW photo/Anna King

David Hyde speaks with Northwest News Network reporter Anna King about what kind of season Washington's wine industry saw this year.