California Is Drying Out and Burning Up

The Golden State is now short more than a year's worth of water

Aug 19, 2014
Outside Magazine

The Way fire alone has burned more than five square miles or California land.    Wikimedia

California is still feeling the heat despite recent destructive thunderstorms that caused floods and mudslides in southern parts of the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor said in its weekly report that the rainfall's location "did not allow for significant percolation into drought-parched soils."

The report also stated that 99.8 percent of the state is currently experiencing "severe" drought, with 58 percent considered to be in "exceptional" drought. The drought has persisted since May, when 100 percent of California was considered to be at the severe level; in July, the first drought-period emergency rule was approved to regulate water use.

The Golden State is now short more than a year's worth of water. "The bottom line is, there's a lot of ground to make up," Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, told the Los Angeles Times. "Mother Nature can't put it back in that fast."

Now there's even more ground to make up due to a wildfire that sparked in the foothills of Yosemite National Park and required firefighters to be dispatched to protect homes on Tuesday. The two-square-mile blaze has already destroyed eight buildings and is threatening 500 more. The Way Fire, which broke out on Monday 215 miles south of Yosemite near Kernville, has grown to five square miles, according to the Associated Press. As of Tuesday morning, the fire had burned at least three structures and was zero percent contained. 

These fires are arriving on the heels of another that threatened Yosemite's sequoias and endangered 100 homes in early August.