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California Gripped by Driest Year Ever With No Relief in Sight

California Gripped by Driest Year Ever With No Relief in Sight

Written by Kiley Kroh

As California enters its third consecutive dry winter, with no sign of moisture on the horizon, fears are growing over increased wildfire activity, agricultural losses, and additional stress placed on already strained water supplies.

The city of Los Angeles has received only 3.6 inches of rain this year — far below its average of 14.91 inches, USA Today reported. And San Francisco is experiencing its driest year since recordkeeping began in 1849. As of November, the city had only received 3.95 inches of rain since the year began.

The state is enduring its driest year on record and while a drought emergency has not yet been officially declared, the U.S. National Drought Monitor shows that as of December 24, nearly the entire state is gripped by severe to extreme drought conditions.

The portion of the state currently hit hardest by drought includes the Central Valley, a prime agricultural area, and “a lack of rain and snow this winter could bring catastrophic losses to California agriculture, as water allotments are slashed by state agencies,” USA Today reported.

The lack of precipitation is also extending what’s been a devastating wildfire season in California. According to AccuWeather, fire season usually tapers off in the fall and December marks the beginning of the wet season, which usually extends through March. This year, however, looks to be different. “It will remain dry through February and probably early March in California,” Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “It’s possible that a system or two could reach the state, but not enough to put a dent in the drought.”

As a result, wildfire risk remains high. Mid-December’s Big Sur Fire scorched through more than 900 acres and destroyed dozens of homes before it was contained.

“The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but there was little doubt among firefighters that the rare December inferno is a manifestation of an exceedingly dry year,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Like much of California, the area is experiencing its driest calendar year on record. “Big Sur has received just half an inch of rain since the seasonal calendar began in July, according to the National Weather Service. The area normally receives nearly eight inches by this time.”

The prolonged drought also poses a serious risk to the state’s water supply. Due to a string of warm, dry winters and the declining snowpack that they bring, many of the state’s northern reservoirs have been stuck at precariously low levels this year, some dwindling to just one-third or one-half capacity. “Going forward, continued dry conditions will not build the snowpack critically needed for this year’s water supplies,” the California Department of Water Resources posted on its website this week.

Citing the the abnormal late fire season activity and very low soil moisture, the agency said Gov. Jerry Brown had formed an Interagency Drought Task Force to assess conditions, allocations, and whether a declaration of statewide drought was needed. In recent weeks, several state and federal lawmakers have written to Gov. Brown and President Obama asking them to declare a drought emergency and federal disaster in the state. “This is going to be a very challenging water year for California and a potentially catastrophic year for the Central Valley in particular,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jim Costa wrote.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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59 comments

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5:58AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

California needs desalinated sea water in a big way. Very expensive but better than losing a decade of crops. Domestic water can be recycled with household size water recycling systems running $10,000- $20,000. But irrigation water mostly evaporates after one trip through the plant being watered. And irrigation accounts for about 2/3 of water use.

11:32PM PST on Jan 3, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown must be really concerned, considering he's happy to poison the remaining water with his new fracking policy!

5:45AM PST on Jan 2, 2014

happy new year to all living beings on our beautiful planet earth

4:06AM PST on Jan 2, 2014

Alarmbells....

11:51PM PST on Jan 1, 2014

I continue to plant trees... with hope

1:46PM PST on Jan 1, 2014

Oh ya, forgot to add that you will end up with amnesia that can last a lifetime of past events as well as the alzheimers like, I don't remember what I did 2 seconds ago and as I did just recently, can't remember your own address despite the fact that I had the same addy for several years. Also, none of us can get one damn lawyer from anyplace in this country to represent us, not even the ACLU will go against the Big Pharma giants. Even tho the fact that the hospitals do NOT TELL YOU THEY ARE USING THIS DRUG AND THE SIDE EFFECTS IS LYING BY OMISSION & therefore AGAINST OUR CIVIL RIGHTS.
My surgeon, James Ryan of Good Samaritan Hosp. in Corvallis Oregon admitted in front of a witness they gave me alz's with this drug, rubbed my head like I was ghood puppy and laughed...then walked out the door, no apology just a good joke at my expense that they used me as a guinea pig and it worked.

1:37PM PST on Jan 1, 2014

Everyone needs to read about the Georgia Guidestones---YES, 90% of the population of the EARTH needs to bwe killed off and it's happening....go to www.askapatient.com and look up VERSED, it is being given to EVERYONE who needs a medical or dental procedure----permanently damages the hioopcampus and gives us alzheimers, dementia, and autism----many research studies prove this without a doubt, also causes aphasia and damages the part of the brain that allows us to make and keep new memories, so giving it to babies is a great idea. They will never lkearn to read or write so working 12 hours a day for a bowl of gruel will be perfect for them. No one cares, medical boards won't do anything about it, USDA won't, FDA won't, so if you or a family member has a surgery you can say hello to the end of your life.
Oh ya, forgot they are now using this amnesia drug in combination with PCP {angel dust] KETAMINE, that's right, your baby or young child needing any kind of surgery will end up with horrific nightmares of satanic origin and have their lives ruined forever....try being a caring partent and make positive what they are giving your kids isn't a lion tranquilizer along with something to cause amnesia. Evewn Loma Linda {that bastioin of 7 Day adventiust religiousdom is doing this and ruining lives. They ARE killing off 90% of us.

3:23AM PST on Jan 1, 2014

@gayle j.....well...if thats the ceo plan...its a tad short sighted. after all...without the rifraf...who will clean their toilets, scrub their floors and change little junior's nappies? oh...and cook, or grow their food.

back to the drawing board...tight wads. ya missed some crucial information as always.

maybe it is from breathing rarified air up there at the top of the heap.

8:00PM PST on Dec 31, 2013

Some people say the elite/CEO's are trying to kill off the rest of us so they can build their own utopia without us riff-raff around. Yes, we riff-raff won't survive without water, but do the elite really think they can create their own water supply if they're poisoning and drying up the water all over the planet? We could be stopping this, but since the republiCONs are lying, cheating and taking away our right to vote, we're screwed.

7:23PM PST on Dec 31, 2013

Better stock up on California wine while the grapes are still around.
All the better to toast the climate change deniers.I wonder about area that were originally deserts like Las Vegas, etc. that were never meant to be populated. Where are they going to find water for their swimming pools and lawns?

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