Drought? What drought? With the recent series of rainstorms, many are asking this same question up and down our golden state of California. The simple truth is that precipitation is down nearly 80 percent from where it should be this time of year. Worse yet, last year – 2013 – was the driest year on record and 2012 wasn’t much better. Therefore, if conditions remain the same, we are in the third year of a drought, much like the infamous drought I personally experienced in the ’70s.
Exactly why don’t these rainstorms help us?
Many consider an occasional rainstorm a boon for our water supply, translating to more water statewide. Not exactly, for much of California’s water supply depends on water-heavy snow, which when it melts, feeds our reservoirs and aquifers. According to the State Department of Water Resources (DWR), the agency responsible for measuring the water content in our snowpack, we have had very little of this water-rich snow to replenish what we have been using. They report that the 2012 snowpack was 55 percent of normal with the 2013 snowpack only 17 percent of normal.
What about this year’s snowpack?
Our recent spate of rainstorms also brought several feet of snow. This should be great news, especially with our Mount Shasta nearly devoid of its typical whitecap of snow. However, according to the DWR our snowpack is a mere 35 percent of normal for this time of year.
To understand exactly how serious our drought is, wander over to the U.S Drought Monitor webpage provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This map presents a frightening view of how devastating the effects of the drought just may be. After all, much of the food grown in this fertile state comes from areas of extreme drought and exceptional drought.
The water shortage could hit our faucets.
How does all this compare to the devastating drought of the ’70s? It’s very similar with water restrictions and doomsday headlines. Nevertheless, this one may be even worse. As a lifelong Californian, I have never faced a shortage of drinking water-not even in the ’70s. According to multiple sources, that’s exactly what may happen.
Get your Arc ready!
An article in a local newspaper about the drought caught my eye recently. In the article, Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center in Davis, stated, “Every report I’ve seen says we need another 40 days and 40 nights of rain or whatever to make any difference,” and followed with “Every drop is helpful, but we need a lot more.”
As a Californian, I value every drop of rain we receive. However, I realize that we are in a serious situation, much like the ’70s. I will do as I did then-conserve what little water we receive.
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