California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists in the Sierra foothills and reservoirs dry up
As the winter solstice approaches, temperatures are dropping across the West. Rain continues to fall, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make a difference.
For those of us who live in states that are inching toward summer, the threat of heat is a serious one. But for many rural places that have experienced decades of drought, or the threat of it, a heat wave is likely.
The situation in California, by comparison, is very different to the situation most of us experience in rural places. Drought ravaged the state for decades. Now that the drought is over, we’re facing the threat of more drought.
California is experiencing an extended period of drought. By the end of the summer, there will be an average of only four hours of rain a day. This is not a typical Southern California drought. It is typical of the kind encountered by a majority of the country in recent years.
On Thursday, the average temperature across California was 57.5 degrees, which is very nearly the same record high of 57 degrees set back in 2015. In the city of Los Angeles, the temperature broke a record high that stood since 2003. The previous record was 52 degrees.
The current drought in California is also the worst since 1970, when there was an average of 11.4 days of total precipitation. In the Sierra foothills, reservoirs are already at the lowest level on record, with no more snow expected for the current winter. In Northern California, reservoirs have already topped the lowest level ever recorded.
California has already had more than 50 days of statewide drought, and it will be many more before the region experiences more than three months of unseasonably dry conditions.
So what does this mean for the state, and for the people in it?
California experienced an unprecedented drought, but there