California’s drought is only going to get worse. Here’s proof, in one photo.

Across California, skis sit in closets and garages, unused. Snowboards are not shredding. Cross-country skiers are looking elsewhere for their exercise.

The three-year long drought plaguing the western United States is only likely to get worse over the next year, forecasters and climate scientists say, given a dismal snowpack that has officials in many states worried.

Despite a snowstorm earlier this week, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains stands at just 12 percent of the average level, the lowest measurement in the half-century records have been kept. Here’s how that looks, in an image snapped by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:


Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, Jan. 13, 2013 vs. Jan. 13, 2014 (Photo credits: NOAA)

The low snowpack has serious consequences for the summer. Less snow means less summer runoff. Already, California has banned fishing in some drought-prone rivers. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has asked residents to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Earlier this week, President Obama called Brown to discuss the drought.

Earlier this month, Brown declared a state of emergency, urging residents to conserve water as much as possible. Several state agencies have said they plan to ration water throughout the summer. And already this year, several wildfires have broken out in areas of the state like Humboldt County, which is typically wet enough in the winter to mute any fire activity.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson · February 2