44 percent of California now experiencing drought conditions
In a seemingly short reprieve, California, along with all of San Diego County, is once again in a drought. In a report by the United States Drought Monitor, 44% of California is now in a drought, that figure up 12% from last week. A few weeks ago, the monitor warned the state was currently in the “abnormally dry” category, but has since been elevated to a “moderate drought” category.
Levels in the drought monitor are determined by measurements of climate, hydrologic and soil conditions. The drought has been said to have been a major factor in the wildfires that ravaged California in December. In the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, the monitor lists these areas as being under the “severe drought” category.
California experienced some of the worst drought on record from 2012-2017, with the state of emergency declared by Governor Jerry Brown lifted less than a year ago. A near-record rainy season last year in Northern California was enough to break that period of drought. So far, this winter season has brought little rain with it to Southern California. While this data is troubling, it is hardly surprising, according to meteorologists.
Jodi Kodesh, a meteorologist for NBC 7 news, said “It’s not good news for our area, but it’s nothing too surprising. We’ve been so dry; we haven’t had any rain. This has been a record year for us.” San Diego has received less than half of the normal amount of rainfall this season so far.
The National Weather Service has said, “The dryness this week was a continuation of severely dry conditions which have persisted for the last 3 to 4 months across much of the Southwest to southern Plains. Temperatures during the last three months have been well above average for much of the Southwest, including California, and this has increased evaporative demand which tends to dry out vegetation, soils, and water resources faster than under normal temperature conditions.”
February is the peak season for snow accumulation in California, and officials from the Department of Water Resources met at Echo Summit to test levels of snowpack on the mountain. Doug Carlson, a spokesman for the Department, said “The figures don’t lie. We’re at 30 percent snowpack right now, and last year at this time we were at 182 percent.” Most of California’s rain and snow falls between November 1st and March 31st, and with current forecasts, meteorologists don’t see much hope on the horizon for the big storms we need to fill our reservoirs. The next two weeks alone are forecasted to be uncharacteristically hot days with almost no chance for rain or snow.
While water conservation is not a state mandate right now, it is prudent for the people of California to do what they can to use no more water than they need. Even though it is not a certainty, the potential for the current drought to become worse is a possibility, and getting ahead of the curve now by saving water can go a long way in ensuring the responsible use of California’s water resources.