California suffering through driest three years ever recorded, with no relief in sight
A year ago, the sky was blue in the Sierra Nevada, the sun was shining, and the drought was no issue.
“It seemed like the worst drought on record. It was hard to even call it a drought. All it did was keep going and going and going,” said Ken DeHaven, who lives in the area. “It’s gone on for five years now. We’ve lost more than half a million acres of farmland. People are starting to sell, people are moving on. It’s not a drought anymore. It’s a dust bowl.”
This year, the outlook is far bleaker. In the Sierra, the entire northern half — including the towns of Oroville, Lovelock, and Bishop — and parts of the central and southern parts, are experiencing the worst drought on record. The southern part of California has been hit particularly hard — the worst three-year stretch in modern American history, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“It’s been a very long dry spell with no relief in sight,” said John Hilder, a professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at the University of California at Berkeley.
This drought — the 10th driest stretch on record in the continental U.S. — could be the worst in 100 years for two reasons: water shortages in the West and increased demand by the population of China and India. California’s water system is under extreme stress, and it’s only getting worse.
“We are in a water crisis. We are going to miss our water supply in 50 years,” Hilder said.
The lack of rainfall and the subsequent loss of water in reservoirs has contributed to the worst drought on record in California’s Sierra. The Central Valley, which had been at the center of California’s water supply for decades, has seen a drop