Friday, January 17, 2014

California drought emergency declared by Gov. Jerry Brown

Posted: 01/17/2014 09:09:42 AM PST

Updated: 01/17/2014 09:12:21 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday officially declared that California is in a drought emergency, as the state struggled with the lowest-levels of rainfall in its 153-year history, reservoirs were at low levels and firefighters remained on high alert.

'Hopefully it will rain eventually,' Brown said. 'But in the meantime we have to do our part.'

Brown was governor in 1976 and 1977, one of the most severe dry periods in the 20th century. The most recent extended drought was 1987-1992. The last governor to declare a drought declaration was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who did so during a period of low rainfall in 2008 and 2009. Brown lifted that declaration in 2011 after a wet winter.

Although California has a Mediterranean climate and periodically experiences drought, current conditions are particularly dry.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack on Thursday was 17 percent of normal. Last year, most cities in the state received the lowest amount of rain in any living person's lifetime -- with records going back to 1850.

For the past 13 months, a huge ridge of high-pressure in the atmosphere has sat off the West Coast, blocking storms that normally would bring rain during winter months.

Josh Richman covers politics. Contact him at 510-208-6428. Follow him at Paul Rogers covers resources and environmental issues. Contact him at 408-920-5045. Follow him at

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