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California Declares Drought State of Emergency

Posted by feww on January 18, 2014

EXTREME CLIMATIC EVENTS
CLIMATE-RELATED DISASTERS
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Gov. Brown Declares Drought State of Emergency amid worst dry conditions in 119 years

Brown had earlier described the drought as being “really serious,” adding that 2014 could be California’s third consecutive dry year. “In many ways it’s a mega-drought.”

With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Brown has proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions, said a statement posted on the official website.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”

Excerpts from California Gov Proclamation

  • The State of California is experiencing record dry conditions, with 2014 projected to become the driest year on record.
  • Meanwhile, the state’s water supplies have dipped to alarming levels, indicated by: snowpack in California’s mountains is approximately 20 percent of the normal average for this date; California’s largest water reservoirs have very low water levels for this time of year; California’s major river systems, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, have significantly reduced surface water flows; and groundwater levels throughout the state have dropped significantly.
  • Dry conditions and lack of precipitation present urgent problems: drinking water supplies are at risk in many California communities; fewer crops can be cultivated and farmers’ long-term investments are put at risk; low-income communities heavily dependent on agricultural employment will suffer heightened unemployment and economic hardship; animals and plants that rely on California’s rivers, including many species in danger of extinction, will be threatened; and the risk of wildfires across the state is greatly increased.
  • Extremely dry conditions have persisted since 2012 and may continue beyond this year and more regularly into the future, based on scientific projections regarding the impact of climate change on California’s snowpack.
  • The magnitude of the severe drought conditions presents threats beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and
  • Therefore,  conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist in California due to water shortage and drought conditions with which local authority is unable to cope.

Water Shortages and Rationing

  • 2013 was California’s driest year since records began 119 years ago.
  • 2014 drought could be worse than last year’s.
  • Many California reservoirs are at their lowest levels in years.
  • The snowpack is less than 20 percent of the normal at this time of year.
  • Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir is holding just over a third of its full capacity,  down from the normal of more than a half at this time of year, according to officials.
  • Sacramento City Council has voted to enact severe water rationing as the region is faced with historically low water levels on the American River with a long-range forecast showing little, if any, rain.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Nearly 63 percent of California is covered by Extreme Drought (D3 drought level), and more than 27 percent of the land by Sever Drought (D2 drought level), with  about 9 percent of the state experiencing Abnormal Dry to Moderate Drought conditions.

The land area covered by Extreme Drought (D3 drought level) has more than doubled since last week from 27.59 percent to 62.71 percent.

california drought map
California Drought Monitor Map.  Source: The U.S. Drought Monitor, The National Drought Mitigation Center.

Crop Disaster Declared due to Drought

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued 45 county-level crop disaster designations in 39 California counties on January 15 due to drought.

The drought disaster areas are Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura and Yolo counties.

us drought disaster map 2014
U.S. Drought Disaster Map 2014. Dated January 15, 2014. Source USDA/FSA

Notes:
1. USDA trigger point for a countywide disaster declaration is 30 percent crop loss on at least one crop.
2. The total number of counties designated as agricultural disaster areas includes both primary and contiguous disaster areas.

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