Tag Archives: natural disaster

  • The Effects of California's Driest Year

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    The Effects of California's Driest Year

    This post is the second installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. Check out Part One of the series: "California Drought: Four Months in Review

    For the last three to four years, drought conditions have spread all across the western US, but recently, California has been hit the hardest, facing dry temperatures and withered land. The following infographic from Drought Monitor shows you just how dry (and as a result, at risk for fires) certain areas of California are. 100% of the state of California is now in “severe” to exceptional drought.

    California Drought Monitor

    Conservation Mode

    The state is in emergency water conservation mode until further notice. According to Kathleen Miles from the Huffington Post, Governor Brown has advised residents to cut their water use by 20%. Homeowners who don’t promptly fix leaks have been fined by city governments.

    Coin-operated car washes must only use recycled water. Restaurants and private citizens are encouraged to use paper plates and cups, and water is served in restaurants only upon customer request. Newly-constructed swimming pools may not be filled. Earlier in the year, cities were squabbling over who gets how much water; and in Mendocino County, the sheriff’s office is keeping a close eye out for water thieves who try to pump water from Lake Mendocino into trucks and haul it away to sell or use.

    According to a Huffington Post article from May 16th, 40 city employees in Sacramento have even been “re-designated as ‘water cops’ tasked with reporting and responding to wasteful maintenance.”

    Industry Affected

    Tourism is also adversely affected. California’s ski industry struggled all winter for the lack of snow. Fishing has been banned in several rivers to protect drought-stricken salmon and steelhead trout that may be in danger of extinction if the drought continues. The wine industry is also suffering, with grapes growing slowly and ripening before they’ve reached mature size.

    Wildfires Increase

    California is especially vulnerable to wildfires during times of drought. On average, 69 fires are reported monthly during normal conditions; however, just from January 1 to January 25 of this year, 406 wildfires were reported. The California wildfire season typically occurs during the summer and fall, but the drought has caused wildfires to become an all-year-round occurrence.

    According to the National Journal, as of May 15th “brush fires in California had burned nearly 10,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes, threatened multiple military facilities, and forced thousands to evacuate.” The state has also faced a series of heat waves, with highs between 98 and 106 degrees F that are not helping the situation.

     

    These drought conditions are severely taking a toll on daily life in California and other areas in the west. Check out our Insight Articles to help you conserve water in the future by building up your own water storage supply today:

    Tomorrow, check out Part III of our California Drought Series  "California Drought: the Impact on Farming and Produce"

    -Sharon, Kim, and Angela

    Photo Courtesy of the United States Drought Monitor

    Editor's Note:  Correction to a statement made in an earlier version of this article. Lawn watering and car washing has not yet been banned in California. Watering has been reduced to two days a week and car washing has not been reduced yet. Residents are asked not to water sidewalks in an effort to conserve water.

     

    Sources:

    www.blogs.usda.gov/2012/08/10/us-drought-and-your-food-costs

    www.theundergroundsite.com/california-drought-could-impact-world-food-prices

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/california-drought-effects-500-years_n_4647529.html

    www.trippapparel.com/2014/18697

    www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Feature/LakeMead

    www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/02/14/obama-california-drought-aid-vilsack/5479121

    www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/us/politics/obama-to-announce-aid-for-drought-racked-california.html?r=0

    www.westernfarmpress.com/blog/obama-administration-misses-boat-drought-assistance

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/16/california-drought_n_5340596.html

    http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/california-s-wildfire-season-has-ravaged-nearly-10-000-acres-so-far-20140515

    http://www.capradio.org/articles/2014/02/06/drought-forces-broadest-fishing-ban-in-state-coho-at-risk-of-extinction/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, drought, natural disaster

  • California Drought: Four Months in Review

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    California Drought: Four Months in Review

    This post is the first installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. 

    All the western states, including California, are naturally subject to periods of drought. But according to B. Lynn Ingram, University of California Earth Science professor, a study of tree rings shows California’s current drought to be the most severe in the last 500 years.

    Not only did California receive zero rainfall this January (normally the rainiest month of the year), recent past conditions have illustrated the decline in moisture. In 2013, California received a total of 7 inches of rain; the average yearly total is 22 inches. The Sierra snowpack, which gives California 1/3 of its water, was 88% below normal as of January 30, 2013.

    In early 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared the state a “primary natural disaster area,” and President Obama announced over $190 million in drought aid. With almost twice as many fires and acres burned between January and March of this year than last year, California needed more than light rain and overcast skies to pull them from this drought. Unfortunately, over four months later, California has not seen the type of precipitation to pull them out of the drought and reduce wildfires in the state.

    The lack of rain over the past few months has led some, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District, to alert cities and companies that only 80 percent of requested treated drinking water will be provided for the rest of the year. The companies and cities losing this water typically provide it for about 1.5 million people. However, it’s not only thirsty cities receiving less treated drinking water, but irrigated farmlands are forced to turn to alternate sources of water such as wells.

    During our lifetimes, we’ve become accustomed to California being the garden of the nation, producing nearly half of the fruit, nuts, and vegetables for the whole country. The sight of fallow fields, blowing dust, or browned seedlings failing in the heat is an image we associate more with the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma back in the 1930s than with California. But that may not be the case this year unless there’s a significant change in the weather.

    National Journal reporter, Marina Koren, believes that in order “to break its historic drought, California would need to see 9 to 15 inches of precipitation in one month. That’s more than half a year’s worth of average rainfall for the state.” This lack of precipitation for the state has created water restrictions.

    A water restriction for both irrigation and drinking (whether due to drought, a chemical spill, or another emergency) is a great reason to keep your [water storage] up to date. Check out these articles to learn more about the importance of water storage:

     

    -Sharon, Kim, and Angela

    Come back in the next couple of days to check out the rest of our California Drought Series:

    Part II “The Effects of CA's Driest Year"

    Part III "How does  the CA Drought Effect your Grocery List?"

     

    Photo Courtesy of the Huffington Post via the Associated Press

    Sources:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_25411117/california-drought-silicon-valley-cities-and-farms-hit

    http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_stats

    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/hdfForecast?query=california&MR=1

    www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/02/14/obama-california-drought-aid-vilsack/5479121

    www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/us/politics/obama-to-announce-aid-for-drought-racked-california.html?r=0

    www.westernfarmpress.com/blog/obama-administration-misses-boat-drought-assistance

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, drought, natural disaster

  • 34 Years and Counting: Mount St. Helens

    Helens-volcano

    This month marks the anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens; a day Washingtonians still talk about. Considered the most deadly volcanic eruption in US history, the blast killed 57 people, caused over a billion dollars’ worth of residential and infrastructural damage, and forever changed the lay of the surrounding forests and rivers.

    To mark the season, the US Geological Survey has issued its annual qualified all-clear. According to experts, the magma levels in St. Helen's are once again building up, but this is just a natural part of a volcano's process of pressurizing and releasing gas and magma. In other words, as Reuter's reports, quoting the USGS, "this is to be expected with an active volcano and does not indicate ‘the volcano is likely to erupt anytime soon.'" Whew.

    However, it also turns out that Helens isn't the only volcano we have to worry about here in the US—and I'm not just talking about our non-contiguous brothers to the north and west.

    According to Mother Nature Network (MNN), of the more than 160 volcanoes that have erupted in the US in the last 10,000 years (five minutes, in geologic time), several of those are due to, er, blow off steam any time now. Alaska and Hawaii predictably figure into those forecasts—but so does the Cascade Range, stretching from Washington down into California. MNN.com's answers to the question posed by the article titled, "Which U.S. volcanoes are likely to erupt next?" should put any Westerner on guard.

     

    Preparation for a volcanic eruption includes some unique precautions that most of us probably haven't considered in the course of our general emergency prep. Here are a few good resources to consult when formulating a volcano-related plan.

     

    Volcano Safety Tips from National Geographic

    Volcano Safety from Weather Wiz Kids

    Volcano Preparedness from the American Red Cross

    The Yellowstone Super Volcano – Are You Prepared? from your friends at Emergency Essentials

     

    Just because it hasn't happened in your state or in your lifetime doesn't mean the possibility isn't there. Expand your repertoire of disaster preparedness by teaching your family volcano safety this month!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: volcano, natural disaster

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