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California drought leaves state parched

While the East Coast and Midwest get slammed with an arctic blast from the North, the West is experiencing the driest year on record.

 A high pressure front along the Pacific Northwest is responsible for pushing water East that would normally travel through Alaska, British Columbia and then California.

California State Climatologist Michael Anderson told the Press-Democrat:

“That’s the rain we would love to see come down here.”

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, replenished by the melting snowpack of the winter, provides California with nearly one third of its water.

But the current weather has forced the Department of Water Resources to provide only 5 percent of the water requested by some 29 different agencies for 2014.

Central Valley Congressman Jim Costa and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote to Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, requesting that he declare a drought emergency to help the agricultural industry.

Larry Peter, who works with Petaluma Creamery and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, told the Press-Democrat:

“There are farmers who can’t pay their bills.”

Peter estimates it costs a rancher with a large herd roughly $2,000 a day to provide water for their animals.

Paleoclimatologist Edward Cook, director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., said at an American Geophysical Union presentation several weeks ago:

“The current drought could be classified as a megadrought – 13 years running. … There’s no indication it’ll be getting any better in the near term.”

According to the National Weather Service,  San Jose received 3.8 inches since January 2013, below its 14-inch average. Oakland? Just 3.39 inches this year versus its 22.8-inch average.

And San Francisco? The last time it was this dry in SF was in 1917, with 9 inches of rain. From July to December of last year, the city received less than 6 inches.

Explore California’s drought map here.

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