California is facing major trouble and while its climate related it isn’t just wildfires. The snow from the Sierra Nevada Mountains is quickly disappearing. The state is dependent upon this snow for water, as more than two-thirds of its drinking water comes from these mountains.
The snow is rapidly disappearing because of hot and dry weather of the same sort that causes the devastating wildfires. Researchers say that the mountains haven’t had an amount of snow this small in almost 500 years.
Most of the snow arrives in winter and then in the warmer seasons it melts and flows down to agricultural operations, reservoirs, and the homes of California’s citizens.
While the problem is well documented the situation is said to be unlikely to improve in the coming decades.
University of Arizona’s Valerie Trouet says “We should be prepared for this type of snow drought to occur much more frequently because of rising temperatures. Anthropogenic warming is making the drought more severe.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California needs to have its wettest year in known history just to hit average moisture levels in the state. Rainfall would have to be more than 300% of California’s average amount to return things to normal
California has been running a precipitation deficit for the past five years. The four-year rainfall amounts between 2011 and 2014 were between 54% and 75% of normal amounts. Every region in the state has essentially missed at least a year’s worth of rain during this time period. The south coast of the state has missed nearly two years of typical rainfall.