Most of the state of California is suddenly in “extreme” drought, as the snowmelt from winter storms has melted without reaching the state’s reservoirs.
Much of it has seeped into dry soils, or simply evaporated, according to the Sacramento Bee:
The miserly output from the Sierra Nevada helps explain why the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly hydrological analysis by the federal government, shows 93% of California in either “severe,” “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. A month ago, only about two-thirds of the state was facing those conditions.
Many farmers in the Sacramento Valley had been counting on getting a 5% allocation this year from the federal government’s Central Valley Project. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation put that meager shipment on hold,explaining that the melting snow wasn’t contributing much to the reservoirs.
The announcement was particularly bad news for Sacramento Valley rice farmers, who produce 97% of the state’s rice crop. Although many Valley farmers have special contractual rights that will give them enhanced deliveries from the Central Valley Project, every grower is facing a minimum 25% reduction, said Jim Morris, spokesman for the California Rice Commission.