drought

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After Driest January on Record, How Low Are California’s Reservoirs? [Visualization]

Lake Oroville, then and now


  July 2011 (Paul Hames/CA DWR)                  August 2014 (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Despite some stormy days in December and a wet weekend ahead, California is bracing for its fourth consecutive year of drought. Last month marked California’s driest January on record. Typically the wettest period of the year, San Francisco remained bone dry the whole month; the first time the city had no measurable rainfall since it began keeping tabs more than 165 years ago.
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Burned Out: Why Western Wildfires Have Gotten Bigger, Hotter and More Out of Control [Comic]

The 2014 fire season was predicted to be a doozy, and so far it hasn’t failed to disappoint. Prolonged drought conditions throughout the West, felt particularly hard across the Golden State, have resulted in a string of large, destructive and extremely costly blazes, charring huge swaths of forest in Northern California and the Northwest and leaving local and federal fire prevention agencies dangerously strapped for staffing, funding and resources. As of September 4, over 38,000 fires had been reported since the beginning of 2014, burning more than 2.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Why has fire season gotten so much longer, more dangerous and increasingly expensive? Comic journalist Andy Warner explains the heated history. Continue reading

How Much Water Do Californians Use and What Does A 20 Percent Cut Look Like?

Includes interactive charts
A parched Folsom Lake,  at less than 20 percent of capacity (photo courtesy of National Weather Service).

A parched Folsom Lake, at less than 20 percent of capacity (photo courtesy of National Weather Service).


This is not a good time for California’s umbrella industry.

2013 was one of the driest years on record in the state. And January  — usually among the wettest months — has failed to provide any relief. With the precipitous drop in reservoir levels, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a statewide drought emergency, calling this “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago.”
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