According to data released earlier this month by state water officials, California just recorded its driest year in nearly a century. Thereby, following some of the worst droughts and wildfires in recent years.
The 2021 water year, which spanned from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, saw the lowest rainfall since 1924. It was the state’s second driest year since records began 125 years ago.
“Extreme conditions that once were rare are occurring with increased frequency,” the state’s Department of Water Resources said. “California’s climate is transitioning to a warmer setting in which historical relationships among temperature, precipitation, and runoff are changing.”
The survey pointed out certain areas of concern, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. They received less than half of their usual annual rainfall. Last year, California was among the driest states in the western United States.
California: one of the driest states recorded
The water year 2020 was similarly dry, with the seventh-lowest rainfall on record.
“This two-year dry period continues the theme of aridity California has been experiencing in the 21st century, including the three-year drought of 2007-2009 and the five-year one of 2012-2016,” the department said. A very wet 2017 water year offered a brief reprieve, but drought began returning in 2018.
According to the agency, snowpack in the Sierra-Cascades mountain area was 60% of average in the spring. Thereby, indicating possibly dire water supply conditions in the future. Drought proclamations have been issued in 50 of California’s 58 counties and citizens have been encouraged to cut their water consumption.
The summer months were particularly dry, with July, August, and September being the driest since the state began keeping statistics around the turn of the century.
California’s greatest existential threat
California’s greatest existential threat, enormous, record-breaking wildfires, is getting a boost from the continuing drought. In recent years, California has had some of the biggest wildfires in state history, destroying entire neighborhoods and setting ideal circumstances for additional natural disasters.
The Dixie fire started in July and is still burning in some parts. It was part of the 2021 water year. It is the state’s largest single wildfire, and the second-largest when compared to wildfire complexes including many blazes.
A strong season of Santa Ana winds, a weather phenomenon with hot, gusty winds that normally descend from October to March, has heightened the fire risk, according to meteorologists.
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