California is in the midst of extreme drought, possibly its worst since the 1970s.
The state is running out of water, some ranchers have been forced to kill off herds they can’t feed without native grass, and farmers are struggling to grow crops.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last week.
There’s no end in sight for now, with the National Weather Service warning that “forecast confidence is high for drought persistence or intensification” at least through April. The hot summer could be even worse.
Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the dramatic effect drought has had on the state. In the photograph on the left, from last year, snow covers the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In the photograph on the right, the lush green space has been turned to dust and there’s little snow to be seen:
Some cities, like Santa Cruz, are imposing water restrictions to preserve resources. Los Angeles is asking residents to reduce their water use by 20 per cent.
Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, told USA Today that “the whole state is in crisis mode.”
This map from U.S. Drought Monitor shows how severe the drought is:
Southern California has enough water stored up to get through this year and next year without implementing mandatory water reductions, according to USA Today, but some rural areas that depend on rainfall and reservoirs for their water have been forced to impose water limits on households.
The small city of Willits, for example, has only 89 days of water left if it doesn’t rain.
Scientists have warned about “megadroughts” that could be returning to California, noting that some previous droughts in the state have lasted 10 to 20 years.
Images from the state looks grim:
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