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The California Epic Drought

Updated on August 4, 2014
A lake in L.A. The barren ground in the photo is where the water normally is!
A lake in L.A. The barren ground in the photo is where the water normally is!
Another dramatic photo of the LA area. The left, is normal, the right, is today!
Another dramatic photo of the LA area. The left, is normal, the right, is today!
Lake Oroville
Lake Oroville

Any Californian who has lived here for most of their lives will tell you they have never seen such conditions. Dry and hotter than normal is the concise story. It you travel to east of the Mississippi River, as a Californian, you notice how green things are. Whether it is the Midwest- Missouri, Oklahoma, or Florida, the lush green areas along the highways are a stark contrast to the dry, brown landscapes along the not so golden state.

California weather records are all being reset by these new conditions, some well over 100 years old. One fact is that in 2014, the state has been hotter than normal with an average of five degrees. The fire season is very early, with over 3500 blazes throughout the state, luckily most are small, but the state's army of firefighters are already stretched to its limit. Another record established is that the state has amassed a 20+ inch deficit of normal rainfall. In Santa Rosa, the condition is worse between the average and actual rain received- a deficit of 37 inches. This is common with many other cities. In order to make up the loss in water, the city would have to receive over 70 inches of rain in the coming year. The city averages only 32 inches in a wet year.

Nearly 80% of the state is suffering an exceptional drought. The state's reservoirs, all 154 of them, are going dry after the past year of little rain. Many are nearly depleted and moisture content is in the same condition. The state's last major drought was way back in 1975. The state's rainy season, if you can call it that, will not start until November, if then.

This drought actually began in 2011. It has established new records that stood for 100 years. The state's firefighter army has since grown to 7000 and now used Army assets and National Guard to battle the fires that have burned 40,000 acres. The state's largest reservoirs, like Lake Shasta, is only at 37% capacity and Lake Oroville is about the same. Lake Sonoma is at 35%. There are many other smaller reservoirs like Lake Mendocino that are less than 35% capacity and a dry lake bed.

To cut water consumption, the state has issued a mandatory rationing or use of water by 20%. To enforce such a draconian law, many local municipalities have "Water Police" who receive reports of excessive water use for watering lawns. Violators will be fined up to $500 per incident.

Much of Southern California gets water from large reservoirs in Northern California, the drought has shrunk this down to a dribble as it moves along canals. The drought is expected to continue until 2015. How will the the farmers be able to grow the food America eats?


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    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks for you informative hub on the California drought. I've lived in Cali for only three years and it's difficult to get used to.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 3 years ago

      Thanks, more drought to come.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 3 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Wow! It's really scary to see the water line receding so fast. And this is just in a matter of , what, four years?

      I chuckle when I read the caption below one of the images where you said, " The left, is normal, the right, is today!" I thought, "the right is the new normal". Hopefully not. Let's hope the waters will come back.

      Voted up and interesting.