SCARY 2011 WESTERN USA STATS: - Tioga pass was open on January 4th for the first time since 1933 (last year it closed Nov. 19th) - 32% of the snow covered ground in the Sierra Nevada is only 1.9 inches deep (last year at this time 72% of the snow covered ground was 37 inches deep) - Modesto Irrigation District (in central CA) will be opening their canals to irrigate crops in January for the first time since 1989 Does Current Lack of Snowpack = Drought in California? | Unofficial Networks

Does Current Lack of Snowpack = Drought in California?

Does Current Lack of Snowpack = Drought in California?

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Does Current Lack of Snowpack = Drought in California?

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Oroville reservoir in North California in 2008

SCARY 2011 CALIFORNIA STATS:

– Tioga pass was open on January 4th for the first time since 1933 (last year it closed Nov. 19th)

– 32% of the snow covered ground in the Sierra Nevada is only 1.9 inches deep (last year at this time 72% of the snow covered ground was 37 inches deep)

– Modesto Irrigation District (in central CA) will be opening their canals to irrigate crops in January for the first time since 1989

“In my lifetime they have only opened the canals here in winter a handful of times.” – Randall Buckley, Modesto almond farmer

The Western USA’s lack of snow is going to lead to a lack of water if things don’t change soon.  Remember that horrible D word…Drought?  Think California in the late 80s and 90s when it was illegal to water your lawn.

The snow in the Sierra melts and fills our reservoirs and waters our crops.  Without this water our farms and their productivity will be greatly effected.

California farmland

CALIFORNIA WATER/FARM/FOOD STATISTICS

– California’s Sierra Nevada water fed central valley grows one-third of all the food grown in the USA

– In 2008, California’s 81,500 farms and ranches generated $36.2 billion products revenue

 

At this point in our dry winter, water managers aren’t too concerned.  Last year was avery good water year and managers were able to store water in reservoirs and our groundwater sources are still well stocked.

“We took a lot of that melted snow last year and stored it, so we have a lot of water stored underground.”  Jamed McDaniel with the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water

Water managers, like skiers and riders, are still holding onto hope of one big series of storms that’ll change everything.

“As often happens, we’ll get a breakthrough high pressure and some Pacific storms will come roaring in, and it’ll be very productive,” Roos said. “A couple of those and we’ll look a lot different.”

deep snow in ca

Mammoth Mountain last season

The answer right now is that our low snow this year doesn’t mean drought just yet.  2/3 of the water year is still ahead of us.  But, if things stay the same, we certainly will have to start taking drought precautions in California and the D word will be on peoples lips.

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