click image to zoomThe Drought Monitor Map, released on Jan. 16, 2014. The latest “Drought Monitor” report, released Thursday, had little good news for California. While the drought changed little across most of the country from Massachusetts to Nevada, in California conditions went from bad to worse.
Nearly two-thirds of California is now in extreme drought, the highest percentage ever reported for the state in this intensity by the “Drought Monitor.” On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown announced he would soon declare an official drought designation help maximize water resources across the state, according to KCBS News.
“In many ways it’s a mega-drought; it’s been going on for number of years and then we also have the prospect of global climate change and that can affect us as well,” Brown said at a Fresno, Calif., press conference.
On Wednesday, the USDA released its first water supply forecast of 2014, and the news wasn’t good for California and other areas west of the Continental Divide. Click here for the year’s first national water forecast.
Many California areas are already bracing for water rationing.
"I shudder to think if rain doesn't come," said Carre Brown, a supervisor in Mendocino County, Calif. "All our reservoirs are very, very low."
Water rationing may be the least of troubles for some residents. Drought conditions and high winds spawned by a surface high pressure have created the perfect storm for wildfires, including one in the San Gabriel Mountains on the outskirts of Los Angeles that has ripped through 1,700 acres of brush and driven some 3,700 people out of their homes.
Many in the state are desperate for relief, but in their latest “Seasonal Drought Outlook” update, it’s likely to stay dry in the Golden State through at least the beginning of May.
Catholic bishops have even 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.