Saturday, January 18, 2014
Making Sense of What's Going on in California
These two satellite photographs from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration present the problem very clearly.
Here's what you need to remember. Last winter's snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas, shown on the left, was lousy. It was a bad year that contributed to last year's California drought. So, if the left image is bad, you can draw your own conclusions about the photograph on the right.
A few drought facts from Mother Jones:
San Fransisco has received 2.12 inches of precip so far this 'water year.' The previous low for this period was in 1851 at 7.42 inches.
The lack of snowpack means severe cutbacks in hydroelectricity. That means California will have to fall back on fossil fuels, increasing both costs and emissions.
California communities may be pushed into more reliance on desalination plants which means more energy use, more carbon emissions and more coastal brine waste discharge problems.
We're looking at sustained drought along the U.S./Canadian west coast through into at least April.