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1 June 2021

Summer is upon us but the drought has already gotten a head start. And that's ominous considering the fire danger.

Drought. Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42 II R kit lets at 32mm (64mm equivalent) and f10, 1/800 second and ISO 200. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

We thought 2017 ended the five-year drought that kept us from power washing the house and keeping the car clean and planting lush gardens. But last year was the third driest on record with only 10 inches of rainful and 2021 is no better.

Nearly the entire state (97.5 percent with 87.95 in severe drought and 52.86 in extreme drought) is in some stage of drought. Last year at this time, it was only 41.5 percent. A drought emergency has already been declared in Mendocino and Sonoma counties in the northern part of the state.

We don't have 'normal' years around here.

Scary stuff.

CBS reporter Jonathan Lloyd adds, "About three-quarters of the American West is in what is called a megadrought, with critical waterways like the Colorado River and Rio Grande that supply millions of people and farms expected to have dismally low flows this year."

We don't have "normal" years around here. It's either very wet or very dry in the nation's most variable climate. And we can weather a dry year with our reservoirs and groundwater basins. But when they run low, we have a drought on our hands.

Atmospheric warming increases evaporation so more water is retained in the air instead of falling back to earth as precipitation. Our Sierra Nevada snowpack accounts for 30 percent of the state's water supply each year.

We can drink vodka but water irrigates our crops and produces electricity in the state. And, of course, it supresses those wildfires that have devasted whole communities.

It's going to be a long, hot -- and dangerous -- summer here once again.

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