California drought so bad, more residents forced to bathe out of buckets
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While most Americans are digging out of an early freeze thanks to the "polar vortex" phenomenon, Californians are dealing with something of the opposite. While show piles in drifts and ice forms on the Great Lakes, more and more Californians are going without water.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Californians are suffering as an unprecedented drought threatens to stretch into a fourth year. Farmers and consumers have drained reservoirs and groundwater supplies which are normally recharged by rain and snow, are at record lows are are now empty. People are ripping up lawns, cars are left filthy, and in more places, families are relying on trucked water for survival. A growing number of people are learning to bathe with buckets.
Problem areas include places in the fertile San Joaquin Valley where nearly half of the nation's fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown. The California coast, particularly between San Francisco and Los Angeles (central coast) are also running out of water because deep wells only bring up salt water. Freshwater supplies are depleted.
Pray for rain as California continues to dry.
The 2013 year was the driest on record and 2014 isn't promising much more rain or snow. Farmers are leaving fields fallow and selling their meager water supplies to communities - they can make more selling the water than the crops.
In communities just south of San Francisco, people are already bathing in buckets and have been doing so for several months.
Poor communities lack the ability to drill deeper wells to tap into sinking groundwater reserves. As streams and creeks go dry, people are forced to do with much less. In most communities, fines are imposed for watering lawns. The public has been encouraged to flush less, to take shorter showers and to turn off the tap when brushing or shaving. These measures add up and while many have been habit for Californians for a long time, they are now standard practice even in places that typically have more water.
California is accustomed to the occasional drought and shortages of water, but for entire communities and even farms to go without is virtually unprecedented. California has hardly seen such a stretch of dry weather in modern, recorded history. Few people alive remember anything worse. The longest drought the state endured was in the 1920s and 30s.
Worse yet, despite a mild El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon which usually brings rain to the state, another bizarre phenomenon appears set to divert the badly needed moisture north and east of where it is needed.
Known to meteorologists as the "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" (RRR) a dome of high pressure off the California coast is the prime culprit in the state's drought. This persistent ridge of high pressure has remained in the same place for three years, right through the winter months. High pressure brings clear, sunny skies and warmth. It's also the reason for the famous California heatwaves which routinely occur in the summer months with many inland parts of the state experiencing triple-digit temperatures for weeks at a time.
Although Californians are accustomed to summer heat and mild winters, nobody seems prepared for a fourth year of drought. It is feared that it is only a matter of time before entire cities are left without water. When that happens, trucks will not be enough to sustain people.
For now, Californians can only conserve and pray, hoping that the weather patterns break down or shift and that the badly needed rains come in 2015. If they do not, then the year to come could bring problems that impact the nation as a whole, in a very dramatic way.
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