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  • Is the California Drought Really Making Headway?

    California is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful parks, and blistering drought.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 4, 2015But things have been much worse for California’s drought. Just last year, the majority of the state was either in exceptional or extreme drought (as seen here as the two shades of red). There was only a small sliver down in the southeast of the state that was just abnormally dry (yellow). The rest of the state was in at least some form of drought, much of it severe or worse. Things certainly were bad back then. But has it improved, or has it become even worse? Let's look at the current drought monitor.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 2, 2016As of August 4, 2016, there’s a lot more yellow, which is a good sign. Yellow means it’s just abnormally dry, not technically in drought conditions. A fair portion of the reds have turned orange or beige, signaling the extreme and exceptional drought conditions are dwindling.

    Yes, there is still quite a bit of exceptional drought in California, but by the looks of things, it is slowly dispersing. That being said, it’s nothing to celebrate. At least, not yet.

    Since Californians have done an excellent job at conserving water – they cut back water usage by 27.5% in June 2015 as compared with the 2013 baseline – many municipalities are lifting water restrictions. An article in the East Bay Times showed concern from water program director at the Pacific Institute, Heather Cooley. She said that today’s number of saved water is strong. However, Cooley has other concerns.

    “I’m concerned about the next several months and years,” she said. “The water we save now is water we can use later if we don’t get rains next winter.” She warned that caution should be exercised.

    As the drought monitor from August 2, 2016 suggests, there is still a fair amount of drought afflicting the Golden State, and there will undoubtedly still be quite some time yet before the drought is gone.

    Whether lifting much of the water restrictions in California is a good idea or not remains to be seen. However, it does look like there is still room for precautions. Just because the disaster is becoming less severe doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to stop being cautious – and this goes for all disasters. Just because the threat is subsiding doesn’t mean the threat is gone entirely.

    But, perhaps local officials know better. Whatever their source of knowledge, you can still do your part to save water and ultimately be prepared.

     

    Drought  monitor

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  • This Major Hurricane Drought Could be a Very Bad Thing

    It’s been over 10 years since the U.S. has experienced a major hurricane on its East or Gulf coast. According to NOAA, a major hurricane is one with sustained wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour, or at least a category 3 hurricane.

    hurricane drought

    You might be thinking, “But what about Hurricane Sandy? Didn’t that storm cause significant damage?” Well, yes, it did, but it wasn’t a major storm. In fact, it was only a category 1 storm. The damage brought on by Sandy was in large part due to massive storm surge.

    So Sandy wasn’t a major storm, and we’re still waiting for the next big one to hit. Why, then, is this terrifying?

    The Washington Post suggests that, because of this long-standing drought, people in hurricane-prone areas are growing lax in their preparations. The Washington Post reports that since 2005 – the last major storm – “Florida’s coastal communities have added 1.5 million people and almost a half-million new homes.” That right there is a lot more people that are probably not entirely used to the idea of hurricanes.

    Experts aren’t sure if residents will be ready for the next big storm.

    Kim Clockow of the National Weather Service thinks that communities might be under practiced due to the fact that it’s just something they haven’t had to do in a long while. Of course, she also doesn’t believe the lengthy hurricane drought “will make them less concerned.” After all, a hurricane is still a hurricane, and we all know what can happen.

    But still, if we haven’t done something in a long time and then try and get back into it, it can be much more difficult than we had ever imagined. Take sports. Athletes spend hours and hours each day, every year, to be the very best they can be. If they were to take a year or two (or ten) off, they would be extremely rusty when they came back to the sport. However, after a little bit of practice, it would all come back to them.

    Note how it is after practicing that their skill would come back to them. It’s not during the first game of the season, but before the season opener comes that they put in the effort to get back in shape, and back in their groove.

    Palm Trees with dark clouds - hurricane droughtThe same can be said about hurricane – and any other disaster – preparedness. After taking time off from preparing, practicing, and readying yourself for disaster, you will become rusty. Perhaps you haven’t checked your emergency kit in some time. There might be food in there that desperately needs replacing. Or your gear might have been put in a hard-to-reach location since it hasn’t been used in so long.

    Whatever it is, waiting until that first drought-ending storm comes to get your preparedness back in order is like the aforementioned athlete using his first big game to get back in shape. It won’t end well.

    Preparing before the storm is essential being safe and mitigating damage and health hazards. Learn how to best prepare by reading this article, Where to Begin Your Hurricane Preparations. It will guide you as you start – or improve – your hurricane preparations.

    Don’t be caught napping during this hurricane drought. All it takes is one. Get prepared.

     

    Hurricane_Blog_Banner hurricane drought

  • Learning to Conserve Water Now Helps Prepare You For Drought

    In 1979’s The Muppet Movie, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew showed off one of the most brilliant water-saving devices ever devised: a “musical rotating rain barrel.” Think of it: simultaneous conservation and outdoor entertainment.

    The western ghost town where he’d set up shop was a good place for it. Of the ten states with the highest per capita water use, nine are in the west. The main reason: landscape irrigation. In western states, which see less rainfall, residential water use averages almost 130 gallons per person per day. In the rest of the United States, residential water use averages about 89 gallons per person per day.

    So, in the west, the easiest way to conserve water is to water less. Lawns only need about a half inch of water per week and less in the autumn and winter. If water’s running down the gutter, you’re using too much. Ready.gov has more tips for landscape watering, including planting drought-tolerant plants and grouping plants together based on how much water they use.

     

    Conserve Water - via American Water Works Association Research Foundation

     

    A dripping tap showing water being wasted - conserve water

    The next-easiest way to reduce water use is to repair leaks.

    “One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year,” ready.gov said.

    Often, the repair is as easy as replacing a washer in the faucet. Also check plumbing for leaks and have a plumber repair them.

    The next step to reduce water use is to monitor indoor water use. The average family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 70 percent is used indoors.

    The largest indoor uses are flushing the toilet and bathing, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Most new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush. Older models use about 4 gallons. Either model uses more if it leaks. If you hear water running between flushes, check for a leak. It may be as simple as a loose-fitting stopper in the tank, a truly easy fix. My husband, who is not at all mechanically inclined, recently replaced the stopper in our toilet. It took him about 20 minutes and cost less than $12.

    Faucet - conserve waterLook closely on a faucet or shower head. It will say a number, like 1.0 gpm or 1.5 gpm. That’s the maximum flow – 1 gallon per minute, for example.

    Old show heads allow flow of up to 5 gallons of water per minute. Water-saving shower heads use about 2 gallons per minute, according to the USGS. To save water, replace old shower heads with water-saving ones and take a shorter shower. Also, a full tub of water averages about 36 gallons of water, so take a shower instead of a bath.

    If you have a dishwasher, use it. New dishwashers use 6 gallons of water per cycle, while old ones use 16 gallons. But hand washing dishes uses between 8 and 27 gallons of water, according to the USGS. Either way, scrape food off dishes into the trash. Kitchen sink disposals use a lot of water to run correctly.

    Run full clothes washer loads. Even new, efficient washers use 25 gallons per load. An older washer might use 40 gallons per load.

    The United Nations estimates that in 15 years, at the current rate of usage, the world’s fresh water supply could be 40 percent less than what people need. Parts of the U.S., especially in the west, are in drought now. Others, like Flint, Mich., must deal with human-caused water shortages. The best way to prepare for water shortages is to conserve water beforehand, said ready.gov.

    “If we plan for drought, then we can enjoy the benefits of normal or rainy years and not get caught unprepared in dry years,” the site said.

     

    Drought conserve water

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