Drought 2014: What You Need To Know
Governor Brown has declared a statewide drought emergency and is asking all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. California is experiencing a serious drought and the state will be challenged to meet its water needs in the upcoming year.
Calendar year 2013 was the driest year in recorded history for many areas of California, and current conditions suggest no change is in sight for 2014.
Water conservation is always important in California, but this year no Californian can afford to waste any water. We all need to do our part.
Starting in January, the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) measures the water content of the snowpack each month to determine the state’s water supply for the year. Snow normally provides about a third of the water for California’s homes and farms as it melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers.
The first two snow survey of 2014 showed the snowpack’s statewide water content at some of the lowest measurements ever taken. Last year started out with a wet December but then the rain stopped and by May, the snowpack was only at 17 percent of normal and 2013 turned out to be one of the state’s driest years on record. California is now experiencing its third consecutive dry year.
Dry snowpack is not the state’s only worry. California has suffered from a lack of rain, with many areas ending 2013 with the lowest rainfall amounts on record. According to DWR, Gasquet Ranger Station in Del Norte County—which is normally one of California’s wettest spots with an average annual rainfall of nearly 100 inches—only received 43.46 inches last year. Sacramento ended the year with 5.74 inches of rain, vastly lower than the normal 18 inches the region usually receives. Downtown Los Angeles set an all-time low with just 3.4 inches of rainfall. The city’s average is 14.74 and the previous record low was 4.08 set in 1953.