Drought in California- No End in Sight

For those of you outside of California, it may be easy to overlook the fact that California has been in such a severe drought that it won’t even be mitigated by the heavy rainfall that we have received in recent weeks. San Francisco has only seen 5.85 inches of rain since July 1, 2013, and Los Angeles has only seen 1.2 inches of rain. Lake Tahoe has seen one of the driest winters in recent years with very little snowpack compared to more normal years. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month. The worst part- the storms that are currently hitting the coast won’t even make a dent in the drought. The image below, Folsom Lake in Northern California, shows just how bad the drought has become.

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Images of Folsom Lake, a reservoir in Northern California, show the severity of the state’s drought. The photo at left, taken on July 20, 2011, show the lake at 97 percent of total capacity and 130 percent of its historical average for that date. The photo at right shows the lake on Jan. 16, 2014, when it was at 17 percent of capacity and 35 percent of its historical average.

This is bad news for more than just those of us in the great state of California. The area hit the hardest has been the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California alone produced $44.7 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, with everything from fruits to livestock. You can attach a monetary value to the drought in terms of lost production. Farmers are having to choose between letting their crops die and paying high prices for irrigation. In turn, food prices for certain items may increase or we could face shortages of the crops that are primarily grown in the Central Valley. Unless we take real steps to reduce water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, we can expect more extreme droughts in the future.

For more information on the drought: http://science.time.com/2014/02/24/california-rainfall-wont-end-drought/

Image from: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/25/282624536/california-s-drought-a-shocking-photo-and-other-updates

Agricultural statistics from: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/

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