California turns to prayers for ‘mega-drought’ relief
click image to zoomThe Drought Monitor map, released on Feb. 7, 2014. Though drought-plagued California is in line for some much-needed precipitation, it likely won’t be enough to stop the intense drought that now dominates the state. In a graphic seen here, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed just how much Monday's storm will affect the California drought.
According to the latest “Drought Monitor” report, more than two-third of the state is in extreme or worse drought, marking the worst drought some in the state have ever seen.
“During the four-week period ending Feb. 4, California’s coverage of extreme to exceptional drought surged from 27.59 to 67.13 percent,” Brad Rippey, a meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist, said in an analysis here. “California also experienced its first-ever coverage of exceptional drought (D4) in the nearly 15-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, beginning on Jan. 28. By Feb. 4, nearly one-tenth (9.81 percent) of California was considered to be in D4.”
Bloomberg reports that California’s reservoirs are holding just 39 percent of their combined capacity, during a time they typically would be 64 percent full. This has led officials to cut the amount of water that local authorities could draw from the series of reservoirs to zero. Read, “California's Drought in Two Terrifying Charts.”
Gov. Jerry Brown has warned that following the driest year on record, 2014 could bring a “mega-drought.” He declared an emergency in January and has asked Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent, according to a USA Today report, available here.
"The whole state is in crisis mode ... but there will be serious pockets of pain," said Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.
Many worry the mega-drought could force many of the stats farms, dairies and ranches to close their doors for goods, increasing unemployment, the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reports.
"We're all doing our rain dance, hoping it doesn't come to that," Rick Palermo of the Fresno, Calif.,-based Community Food Bank said. "Hopefully, the water comes, but if it doesn't, we'll be ready."
It’s not just rain dances that are being used to help bring moisture back to the parched land. Some, such as rancher Nathan Carver are left praying for rain. Catholic bishops have also stepped in to help, asking people of all faiths to join in prayer for rain. In a news release, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops offered sample prayers for those interested in praying for rain.
The seasonal outlook doesn’t bode well for relief anytime soon. The Climate Prediction Center expects the drought to persist – or intensify – through at least the beginning of May.
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