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Southern California’s drought has returned

By in Press Enterprise on February 3, 2018

By Kevin Smith

There’s something profoundly depressing about a bad scenario that you suspect might happen — and ultimately does happen.

I’m talking about Southern California’s drought. The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, a division of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, shows that large swaths of Southern California have drifted back into moderate drought conditions.

It’s not as if we didn’t know something was up.

Anyone who has recently driven the 210 freeway between Santa Clarita and Pasadena or the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles can attest to the fact that massive portions of those hillsides have been scorched by recent brush fires.

And the surrounding vegetation that manged to escape the carnage is dry and brittle. That’s the case throughout most of Southern California. This is especially disheartening in the wake of the heavy rains we saw between October 2016 and March 2017.

California averaged 30.75 inches of precipitation during that period, the second-highest rainfall totals since records began being kept in 1895, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

But the latest numbers that were released this week tell a different tale. They show that 44 percent of the state is now experiencing moderate drought. That’s a dramatic leap from last week when the most recent data pegged that figure at just 13 percent. The Los Angeles Basin has received less than 20 percent of the water that’s normally expected by this time of year.

So here we go again.

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced the end of the drought state of emergency in most portions of California last April — even though he maintained water reporting requirements and prohibitions on wasteful practices like watering during or right after a rainfall — I remember thinking that he might have jumped the gun.

Looks like I was right. […]    

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