California records driest January since 1984

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California recorded its driest January since 1984, with the lack of rain and snow pushing drought conditions across the most populous US state to nearly 100 per cent, local media reported.

Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a climatologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying on Friday that January was the second driest start of the year on records going back to 1895 and the drought could be relieved through the next three months as the state’s rainy season starting to wind down, reports Xinhua news agency.

California gets most of its annual water in the form of rain and snow from October to April, with almost half coming between December and February.

The dry January and lack of precipitation so far this month have led to discouraging forecasts for California’s prospects.

“There’s no precipitation forecast through the remainder of February. And there’s very little precipitation in the long-range forecast for March,” Erik Ekdahl, deputy director with the State Water Resources Control Board, said. “All this is pointing to, again, some pretty dire conditions statewide for drought.”

Calmatters, a non-profit newsroom explaining California politics and policy, reported that after record-setting storms in last October and then December, the past six weeks in California have seen precipitation totals plateau at roughly half the yearly average in the state’s major watersheds.

The snowpack, too, hasn’t increased, the report noted.

A critical water supply, the Sierra Nevada snowpack was measured at 72 per cent of normal for February 15, but only 55 per cent of the seasonal average measured on April 1. And in parts of the state, the snow is already melting.

Drought now grips 99.57 per cent of California, according to the latest data released by US Drought Monitor, which also indicated that much of the nation from the Mississippi Valley westward is either in drought or abnormally dry and little drought relief is expected this spring.

In the US Drought Monitor analysis, 57 per cent of the continental US was classified in drought, stretching from much of the West into the Plains, upper Midwest and lower Mississippi Valley.

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