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California Drought – The Looming Water Problem

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California has seen its share of drought, anyone who is a long-time resident can attest to water rationing and restrictions – and it appears it might be dealing with water shortages again in 2014.

Although winter is a strange time of year to announce a drought – with three-fourths of the country under ice and snow, but California has not had its usual rain or snowfall. A city like Santa Cruz usually gets at least 30 inches of rain every year, but this year – only about five inches fell – from July to June.

As of December 24th, 85 percent of the state was experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions. Reservoirs are at below normal levels, and people are starting to worry.

On Dec. 17, Governor Jerry Brown set up a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and the state’s level of preparedness – drought is being felt in 94.25 percent of California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought is extremely hard on its inhabitants – human and animal alike – and it is really hard on one of the biggest agricultural growers in the country. Half of the fruits, vegetables and nut crops eaten in the U.S. come from California.

Experts are hoping for an extremely wet winter and spring to try to dissuade the drought from getting any worse.

For farmers and growers who depend on the land to make a living, this drought is especially challenging. Wells have dried up, and farmers are importing water for their crops and cattle.

And that isn’t the worst of it – although it’s bad – but California actually has a “fire” season. California is partially desert, and with that warm climate, things dry out quickly.

Last summer’s Rim Fire was the biggest on record in the Sierra Nevada’s and the third largest in California’s history, burning 257,314 acres of land. Drought is a huge fire risk to the mountains and residents of California.

With the National Weather Service predicting a continued drought in California into the early spring, things aren’t looking good.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

California Drought – The Looming Water Problem


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  • John McHatton

    I just wanted you to know that “most of California” is Not a Desert! In fact, the only desert that I know of in California is south/southeast of Southern Ca. Susanville, Ca. is known as a “high desert,” but even that title is a misnomer.
    If you meant that California is extremely dry right now, you’re right. A definition of a desert is less than ten inches of rain annually. If drought conditions persist, California may have the rainfall definition of a desert, but certainly is not a desert in any way.
    Thanks for letting me reply to your article!

    John McHatton

    • Rojo

      If California didn’t waste so much water on landscaping, most of it would be desert. I am thinking you just dont pay attention to what is going on in the environment around you. Except for the extreme coastal areas everything south of Sacramento is Desert.

      • Don L.

        John McHatton is correct, California averages 22 inches of rainfall per year. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a desert as 10 inches or less per year. This is the scientific definition and has nothing to do with watering lawns or filling swimming pools. Palm Springs at 5 to 6 inches per year, yes, it is desert, but the majority of the state is not.
        I am thinking you just dont pay attention to scientific facts, you are incorrect.

        • Meg Lorenz

          Don, I get it. I live in San Diego. Dry here and it seems we have not had much rain so far for what is considered our “Winter”. However, you sound really uptight. Maybe you should think about losening up a bit for 2014.

        • Meg Lorenz

          Don, I get it. I live in San Diego. Dry here and it seems we have not had much rain so far for what is considered our “Winter”. However, you sound really uptight. Maybe you should think about losening up a bit for 2014.

        • Meg Lorenz

          Don, I get it. I live in San Diego. Dry here and it seems we have not had much rain so far for what is considered our “Winter”. However, you sound really uptight. Maybe you should think about losening up a bit for 2014.

      • http://yahoo.com keith

        NO THEY THE POWERS THAT BE LET IT RUN INTO THE OCEAN .

    • http://magicmonkeyman.com Bob

      You’re right John, Myself, I am an old desert hermit that knows where to find water even during drought years, my heart goes out though to all the city dwellers whos only source for water is a pipe that may soon be filled with nothing but hot air.

      This all reminds me of the time when Nevada dug a sideways tunnel under the border of Utah and was stealing their water; makes one wonder just how far people will go to survive if this drought persists!

  • http://yahoo.com keith

    IT IS A SACREMENTO MADE ONE . BECAUSE OF THE LIBS .

  • chris

    And yet the pinheads still fight the very thought of desalination plants, which would solve this problem.

  • Tom

    WTF? All the Arab countries use desalinization plants getting thier water from the ocean. The U.S. is surrounded by water. Are we going to start building desalinization plants when it is too late? It takes approximately 3-5 years to build such a plant. With the oceans rising due to global warming, it seems this would be the answer.
    We also can figure out how to get oil to the U.S. via pipeline. Why not water. The U.S. has turned into a bunch of greey, selfish DUMB jerks….

  • altostratus

    The very persistent atmospheric pattern leading to this extreme dry spell in California is pretty amazing. There are several extensive discussions on the California Weather Blog (http://www.weatherwest.com) on how the present event compares to the 76-77 drought…

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