California officials forecast ‘zero’ water deliveries

EMPTY LAKE In an unprecedented move that is disturbing evidence of California’s growing drought crisis, officials announced Friday that beginning this spring, the state reservoir will effectively be closed for business. In the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project, which is the backbone of the California water-delivery system, won’t allot any water to the 25 million people and 1 million acres of farmland that it usually services, according to Officials said Friday that in the spring, they will stop water releases from the State Water Project’s 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes and also from large reservoirs in North California to preserve supplies in what has become one of the worst droughts in modern California history, reports.

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“This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times,” Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, told the Associated Press. “We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years.” The ‘zero allotment’ policy will be reassessed month-to-month and the amount of available water could increase if with weather patterns change and send more snow and rain into the parched state. In the meantime, the announcement doesn’t necessarily mean that farms will dry up and taps will run dry all summer. But it does mean that every region in the state must now rely on other sources to keep up with demand. The 29 agencies that draw from the state’s water-delivery system have regional reservoirs and stores of groundwater, although those also have been hard-hit by the drought. Many farmers in California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, also draw water from a separate system of federally run reservoirs and canals, but that system also will deliver just a fraction of its normal water allotment this year. Nevertheless, Friday’s announcement puts an exclamation point on California’s water shortage, which has been building during three years of below-normal rain and snow. For perspective, California would have to experience heavy rain and snowfall every other day from now until May to get the state back to its average annual precipitation totals, according to the Department of Water Resources. “Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real,” Gov. Jerry Brown told “We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.” California’s historic drought reached a new milestone Thursday when the newly released U.S. Drought Monitor showed that exceptional drought now covers 9 percent of the state.

This is the worst possible category of drought in the analysis and is the first time since the Drought Monitor analysis was started in 2000 that any part of the Golden State has seen exceptional drought. “The exceptional drought extends from north to south across 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,” notes meteorologist Chris Dolce. (MORE: California Drought Reaches New Level of Severity Never Recorded on U.S. Drought Monitor in the State) In what is typically one of the wettest months of the year, January 2014 has turned out to be among the driest in history for some cities. Here’s a few examples:

  • San Francisco: This was the first January in recorded history with less than a quarter inch of rain. Through Jan. 30, the city had just one-hundredth of an inch of rain.
  • Los Angeles: No measurable rain fell in Los Angeles during January for only the fifth time since 1878.
  • Redding, Sacramento, Stockton: All recorded their third driest January.

In Downtown San Francisco, the single wettest day of 2013 was a mere 0.78″ on November 20. Christmas 2012 was the last 1″+ rain day, there, according to the NWS office in Monterey, Calif. “Truly staggering was the fact that some locations picked up less than half the precipitation in 2013 of their previous record dry year, including Santa Cruz, Calif. (4.78″ vs. old record of 11.85″ in 1929) and the north San Francisco Bay suburb of Kentfield (7.80″ vs. old record of 20.30″ in 1939),” writes meteorologist Jon Erdman. (MORE: Record Driest Year in California, Parts of Oregon) Click Here For Home Water Storage Supplies The Associated Press contributed to this report. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Stunning Before and After Photos of California’s Lakes Depleted by Extreme Drought

California Lake depleted
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