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article imageEvery last inch of Golden State now under drought conditions

By Karen Graham     Apr 25, 2014 in Environment
This week, for the first time in the history of monitoring, every inch of the state of California has been declared to be under 100 percent drought conditions. The USDM rated the drought to be from moderate to severe across the state.
A new milestone was reached on Thursday when the latest release of the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 9 percent of California is suffering severe, or "exceptional drought" conditions. In the 15-year history of the monitor, California has never had any part of the state suffering an exceptional drought like this.
The drought extends from the north to the south and crosses through parts of 11 counties, including southeast Santa Cruz, far southern Santa Clara, San Benito, Merced, western Fresno, eastern Monterey, eastern San Luis Obispo, western Kern, western Madera, Kings and southwest Tulare counties.
Nine percent of a very parched California is under  exceptional  drought conditions. April 22  2014.
Nine percent of a very parched California is under "exceptional" drought conditions. April 22, 2014.
US Drought Monitor
The USDM said in a statement that D1 [moderate drought] conditions exist across southeast California and southwest Arizona. These conditions have existed to a lesser degree since March 25, and were upgraded with this weeks report.
Impacts in the exceptional drought areas range from wells running dry to ranchers being forced to sell off their cattle because grazing lands have dried up. Extreme drought coverage, the second worst category, now covers 67 percent of the state. This is almost double the 35 percent extreme drought recorded in 2007 in California.
The extreme conditions are affecting agriculture with farmers finding it difficult to get water for their fields. Many wells are running dry and streams that would be full at this time of year are running several months ahead of normal, depending on the area. Surface-water irrigation supplies are non-existent or very limited in many areas, and it is only getting worse.
The view from Marine One en route to Firebaugh  Calif.  February 14  2014. (Official White House Pho...
The view from Marine One en route to Firebaugh, Calif., February 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Pete Souza
According to scientists, a series of conditions are involved, between climate change and both the intensifying California drought and the polar vortex that has been blamed for the harsh winter the country just went through. The one sure event, heavy winter snow-packs, has not materialized for a number of years. NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory reported this month the snow-pack this year is less than one-third its historical average.
Winter is usually the wettest months for California, and water sources are dependent on heavy snow accumulations in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. But the high-pressure ridge that stalled off the coast of the state drove winter storms to the north-east and into Canada. The ridge, that first appeared in 2012, remained so long that meteorologists even gave it a name, the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (RRR).
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