News sources across the country today are saying the historic California drought is getting even worse. It has been a month now since Governor Jerry Brown said the state was facing "the worst drought that California has ever seen since records (began) about 100 years ago."
Based on new numbers released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, things may be looking even dimmer, despite the rainfall northern California received earlier in the week. Currently, the whole state is "abnormally dry," and that is worse than last week, when 98 percent of the state had that designation.
Governor Brown has called on Californians to voluntarily cut back on water usage, in addition to a 20 percent voluntary conservation effort statewide. In January of this year, the governor made an impassioned plea to the people of California, saying,
"It's important to wake all Californians to the serious matter of the drought and lack of rain. We are in an unprecedented, serious situation that people should pause and reflect on how we're dependent on rain, Mother Nature and each other."
Even though President Barack Obama visited the state last week, the promised federal initiative aimed at helping farms and communities may be a long time in coming, and more than likely will be too late to save crops in the ground now. The cost of this drought will undoubtable exceed the $30 billion it cost the country in the 2012 drought.
Looking back in history, when the Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1930's, just 5.6 million people lived in California. Today, 38.2 million people call the state home. Our most populous state has 80,500 farms and ranches that produced crops and livestock worth $44.7 billion in 2012.
But California's Central and Imperial Valleys would dry up and blow away without irrigation. Altogether, the state's agricultural industry uses over 80 percent of the developed water supplies. This leaves around 20 percent left over for 38+ million people.
California's drought and its effects on consumers across the country is without a doubt something we can foresee, especially if the dryness worsens even more than it has already. Remember the RRR, or "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?" The ridge referred to is a massive zone of high pressure nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long that has been blocking storms for the last 14 months. Meteorologist Daniel Swain dubbed the system the RRR.
A lessening of the high pressure ridge in its northern aspects allowed northern California to receive a considerable amount of rain last week. That same ridge all but disappeared further north and on up into Alaska. But the National Drought Monitor blog site is now telling a disheartening story. The RRR is set to make a comeback the latter part of February and looks to be persistent. This is not good news.