On Thursday, 58 percent of California was declared under exceptional drought, the most severe classification and a shocking 22 percent increase from the previous week. It’s the biggest chunk of California to reach such a level since the U.S. Drought Monitor began issuing weekly drought reports in the late 1990s.
The impacts of the drought are profound, with economic losses expected to reach $2.2 billion for California’s agricultural industry.
This historic drought, of course, extends well beyond California through parts of the Colorado River Basin and into the western Plains.
These images help tell the very bleak story…
1. In California, the drought has gotten worse and worse and worse
2. Heat is intensifying the drought. California is having its warmest year on record, by far…
3. The drought is forecast to get worse still
4. Parts of California need more than a foot of rain to end the drought
5. California is turning brown and you can see it from space. Look at the difference between June 2011 and June 2014 in the animation of NASA images below. Note the dwindling snowpack, as well. Sierra Nevada snowpack was just 18 percent of normal this spring.
6. California’s ground is literally sinking in spots (due to groundwater pumping to make up for lack of rain)
7. The toll on California agriculture is devastating. Photo from Richvale, California, in north central California:
9. Water levels are low and lowering in Southern California.
10. A symbolic measuring stick for water in the West, Lake Mead (in Nevada), is drying up. Only 39 percent full, it recently reached its lowest level since 1937. NASA satellite imagery shows change in water level from June 2013 to July 2014 (animation below):
11. Lake Mead shows bathtub ring due to depleted water.
12. A marina on Lake Mead has been moved due to low water levels