Ken Clark

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Drought Emergency; Conserve Now

January 17, 2014; 1:51 PM ET

Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated portions of 11 states primary disaster areas because of ongoing severe drought conditions.This allows farmers to qualify for low-interest emergency loans.

Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a Drought State of Emergency for the state. Gov. Brown called for "a collaborative effort to restrain our water use". He called for Californians to reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

The drought is reaching epic proportions. It is going to get worse, probably much worse. The state's reservoirs, what is relied upon for water in the long, hot, dry summer months, are at historic low levels for this time of year. The amount of water in the meager snow pack in the Sierra is only averaging 17 percent of normal to date, 8 percent of April 1 normals.

The Sierra snow is relied upon to help fill the reservoirs come spring and summer. There is not much there to rely upon right now.

The latest computer models offer no relief either over the next two weeks. The operational GFS has no rain between this morning and Feb. 2, 2014, for much of the state.

The European model out through Jan. 27 has no rain either. Things can change, but there seems to be no chance of any important rain the rest of the month and there is a decent chance of no rain at all in many cities. This would mean the driest January on record for some cities. That would be coming on the heels of a very dry December and the driest ever calendar year of 2013. Sounds very bleak doesn't it?

The declaration of a drought emergency for the state is a good start. It does get the ball rolling in the right direction. However, it stopped short of calling upon water authorities to call for mandatory water restrictions. I continue to say, why wait? Without that there is no teeth in asking people to restrict their consumption by 20 percent. Some people will respond but I dare say a much higher percent will not. Until water restrictions are made mandatory I ask all Californians to help conserve water now. It is for your own good and the good of the state whose economy relies on water for a large portion of its economy.

Remember, I can be found on Twitter at @Kenwxman

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Ken Clark
Ken Clark's Western U.S. weather blog tackles daily weather events with commentary from one of the most experienced and trusted Western U.S. weather experts.