California heads into dry season already parched

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Drought Monitor There’s good news and bad news for California – rains will send some relief to the parched state, but it won’t be enough to make a dent in the drought as the dry season looms on the horizon.

According to Thursday’s Drought Monitor update, 72 percent of California is in either extreme or exceptional drought, marking the 11th straight week with more than 30 percent of the Golden State in these conditions. Click here for California’s Drought Monitor map.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests the state needs between 6 to 15 inches - of rain to quench the drought.  See the full map here.

The drought is leaving some of the state’s ranchers out of feed, forcing them to sell their herds.

"Everybody is out of feed and a lot of ranchers are being forced to sell their cow herds that they've spent a lifetime or two generations building up," rancher John Rodgers told ABC 30 News in an article here. "So, it's pretty tough."

The drought has also put the spotlight on water theft, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.

Even in the state’s epic drought, it’s amazingly easy to steal water from a California stream – the state has no way of monitoring who is tapping into its freshwater supplies or how much is taken. However, water board officials are doing their best within existing legal constrains to police the system.

“We know for sure, unless we get another 40 days and nights of rain, that there are going to have to be curtailments,” said Andy Sawyer, assistant chief counsel at the water board, the state agency charged with regulating California’s complicated system of water rights. “The basic idea is to live within our available water supply ... so we don’t have people stealing from each other.

“And frankly, under existing conditions, for a lot of people it’s just cheaper to violate and pay the penalty than it is to comply.”

Read, “California drought puts spotlight on water theft.”

click image to zoom While all eyes have been on California, the drought continues to expand in other states, too. Currently 23 percent of the country is in severe or worse drought. The worst of these drought areas are in the West, but conditions are quickly deteriorating in the Plains, too.

Texas in particular is feeling the pinch from the drought. More than two-thirds of the state is in moderate to exceptional drought, up significantly from the 44 percent reported in early January.

State climatologist Dr. John Neilsen-Gammon points that just a trace of moisture for March and high winds combined to create dust storms, but though it may feel like a return to the Dust Bowl days, Neilsen-Gammon suggests we’re not there…yet. Click here for the full story.

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