In California, the start of October brings an anniversary with little cause for celebration.
The state ended its third driest year on record and entered a fourth consecutive year of drought, as the U.S. Geological Survey’s water calendar year came to a close Wednesday. Amid a rare autumn heat wave bringing triple-digit temperatures to the state, officials are warning Californians to prepare for the near certainty that the coming months will do little to relieve the parched state.
Satellite images provided to The Huffington Post by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment capture the state’s declining water storage.
(Story continues below.)
“Day-to-day conservation -- wise, sparing use of water -- is essential as we face the possibility of a fourth dry winter,” Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said in a press release at the close of the water year.
It would take 150 percent of the normal precipitation in the new water year to pull the state out of drought, state climatologist Mike Anderson told California media outlet KQED.
KQED also reports that odds are in favor of only a “pipsqueak” El Niño in the coming months, which experts say could bring no rain at all.
While relying tremendously on groundwater supplies has kept Californians comfortable, the practice could come back to bite residents and farmers as the drought ensues.
"That's essentially borrowing on tomorrow's future,” Cowin told the Los Angeles Times. “We'll pay that price over time."