California Drought: The Driest in Over 130 Years
Though it hasn’t officially been declared, parts of California are in a drought.
According to Yahoo News, downtown Los Angeles only received 3.60 inches of rain since January 1, 2013. A normal year would bring 15 inches. This makes 2013 the driest calendar year since 1877.
San Francisco was also parched in 2013 with only 5.59 inches of rain, as well as Sacramento with 6.13 inches. Both cities were 14 to 18 inches below normal precipitation.
“It’s about the worst I’ve ever seen,” said rancher Jim Warren of Gilroy in Santa Clara County. “But you can’t starve a cow into profit.”
Warren has had to pay $6,000 for imported alfalfa hay to feed his cattle since the water shortage has dried up his fresh green winter pastures.
The dry spell is not only impacting ranchers, but those who depend on getting their water through springs and wells.
Much of the west coast state’s reservoirs are below average, making some communities to issue water conservation orders.
“It’s been pitiful,” said Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster in Monterey. “It’s a concern, but we do have several months to catch up.”
However, amidst the concerns, some are actually benefiting from the lack of precipitation. Less rain means less tree disease for orchards. California orchard crops include foods such as almonds, walnuts, olives, and prunes.
But, dry land farmers – those who have wheat or barley in the ground – are still waiting for the rain. They know that there is a possibility of drought each year.
“It is like going to Reno,” said Richard Price, Butte County’s agricultural commissioner. “You put your money down and see what happens.”
Forecasters in the area are still hopeful and point out that often, in the past, dry Decembers have led to storms at the first of the year.
State climatologist Michael Anderson said, “Or we can get a miracle March that bails us out a little bit.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons