Another dry weather will hit California this year, forcing residents to prepare for potential water shortages and destructive wildfires.
On Tuesday, the State’s Department of Water Resources officials announced they found only 61% of the average water content in the overall snowpack for March 2. Officials said the state’s largest reservoirs were filled between 38% and 68% of their capacity, providing only little to stave off potential water shortage for the rest of the year.
“With below-average precipitation across the state, California’s reservoirs are starting to see the impacts of a second consecutive dry year. It’s more critical than ever that Californians adopt sustainability, embrace new approaches and emerging technologies and work together to save water for a secure future,” the Department’s Chief of Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting, Sean de Guzman, said.
About a third of California’s water each year is supplied by the Sierra snowpack. Due to less than average rainfall this year compared to previous ones, the water supply has reached an all-time low.
“Absent a series of strong storms in March or April, we are going to end with a critically dry year on the heels of last year’s dry conditions. Water efficiency and drought preparedness are more important than ever for communities, agriculture, and the environment,” Department Director Karla Nemeth said.
De Guzman revealed that the state’s largest surface water reservoir, Lake Shasta, was only filled to 50% of its capacity, The Guardian reported.
Between 2012 and 2016, California experienced its previous drought, which cost the region $2.7 billion in financial losses. The incident affected the agriculture industry and forced the loss of 18,000 jobs. Ecologists also found the drought killed more than 102 million forest trees.
Global warming also caused hotter, drier weather, which contributed to extensive wildfires in the state. As the years get warmer, the chances of forests catching on fire increases, and the threat of extreme drought looms closer. There were five out of six wildfires last year which were found to be the largest blazes on record.