May 16, 2021
Is California ready for another drought?
SACRAMENTO – (INT) - Another rainy season has come up short and the 'D' word is looming.

California is grappling with drought again, facing many of the same conditions and challenges that were features of the 2012–16 drought—including stressed ecosystems, depleted reservoirs, hard-hit farms and rural communities, threats to urban water supplies, and the potential for extensive wildfires.

To put this drought in context, this is only its second year. Historically, droughts have lasted up to six years. The most recent one lasted five.

The past two years were comparable to the worst of the 2012–16 drought in two key ways. First, April 2019 to March 2021—a period including the past two rainy seasons—was the fourth driest two-year period on record. Second, while not quite as warm as the last drought, these two years are among the warmest. The combination of low precipitation and high temperatures made the last drought very intense. The same pattern appears to be unfolding again.

But there are also some important differences. Most striking are strong regional differences in drought intensity.

Although Southern California is also dry, this drought has hit the normally water-rich portions of the state particularly hard. So far, the North Coast and Sacramento River watersheds have been the epicenter of dryness and high temperatures, in contrast to the central and southern focus of the 2012–16 drought. The result is a supply crisis to farmers in the Klamath basin, and acute water shortages in the Russian River watershed, the area targeted by Governor Newsom’s Regional Drought Emergency Declaration.
Story Date: May 13, 2021
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