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New California snow survey finds little snow, drought blamed

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California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted its first snow survey of the new year yesterday, however, it found more bare ground then snow. The low readings were blamed on low rainfall at the end of 2013.

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DWR's measurements show that the water content of the existing snow pack is about 20 percent of average for this time of year. That equates to only about 7 percent of what is normal for April 1 of each year, when the snow pack begins to melt and feed downstream streams, rivers, and reservoirs. That yearly snow melt provides about a third of the water used by California's cities and farms.

“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes, and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “And every Californian can help by making water conservation a daily habit.”

The lack of snow could have a significant adverse effect for Bakersfield and San Joaquin Valley farmers who depend upon the snow melt for much of their irrigation. Officials are holding out hope that the remaining winter season develops into a wetter one that will replenish the state's mountainous areas.

Some may question whether global warming is to blame for the drought-like conditions, however, there doesn't appear to be a clear answer to this from climate change experts. Some studies indicate global warming will increase droughts, but, others say there has been little change in droughts for the last 60 years. However, a new study says that although global warming may not cause droughts, when droughts do occur they may be more intense and quicker to appear because of global warming.

A video of DWR's snow survey may be seen above or at this link: DWR Snow Survey Video

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