A walk today is pleasantly refreshing, since the temperatures in the Inland Empire region of southern California have dropped from the 100 degree into the 80 degree range, yet the throat is parched, still. I carry water always, everywhere that I go. Early autumn is usually florid, but not this year. Hemet, a city in Riverside County’s Inland Empire “Diamond Valley,” is famous for its lavish displays of roses. This year was disappointing, for the lack of water produced few and puny flower heads. A drive through Hemet and an adjacent city, San Jacinto, reveal a few melons lying in dirt that is usually green with leafy vines in agricultural fields; trees withered into dismal leafless sticks; lawns that once were verdant browned, while towering “dust devils” race across barren fields.
We had already endured severe drought in 2012. Now it is rated “extreme,” which is a worsening condition.
The map shows “Severe to extreme drought.”
“Little or no rain fell on throughout the southwest region as the southwest monsoon normally begins to wind down during the early fall. With plenty of improvements made during the past several weeks and normal rainfall declining during the fall months, no changes were made across the southern tier of states.”
“It’s the third-driest January and February in Sacramento in 150 years, and the driest in California since 1920, when statewide record-keeping began,” meteorologist Drew Peterson said. (Huffington Post, ‘California Drought 2013: January, February Were Driest On Record’). Southern California water users have been told to expect 40 percent of their allocation [of water piped from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern California] based on current measurements.”
Impact on Agriculture
“Even a single dry year can pose problems for activities that are wholly dependent on unmanaged water supplies, such as dryland farming or livestock grazing,” California Department of Water Resources informs us. “It’s worth noting that the two dry years have impacted California’s agriculture. All California counties are currently designated agricultural disasters by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as they were in 2012.
California Farm Bureau states,”Farmers say this year’s agricultural water supply has been squeezed, dry-wells are going empty, major reservoirs are at a fraction of historic storage levels for this time of year and the U.S. Drought Monitor shows California is in a severe to extreme drought.”
Will Autumn Bring Hope for Rainfall?
As the fall temperatures continue to drop, promising to bring additional relief to the sun-scorched region, my eyes search the clear azure skies for the promise of impending moist clouds, too.