California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack shrinks to a 500-year low

The record-low Sierra Nevada snowpack was another indication of the severity of California’s drought, which is affecting everything from agriculture to hydropower generation.

California’s Sierra Nevada mountains haven’t had this little snowpack since the days of Christopher Columbus.

That’s the finding of a new study released Monday indicating this year the state has seen its lowest snowpack in 500 years, and climate change may cause greater water shortages in the already drought-stricken, wildfire-ravaged state. Continue reading

Dry Heat

As Lake Mead hits record lows and water shortages loom, Arizona prepares for the worst.

Last week, Lake Mead, which sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona, set a new record low—the first time since the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s that the lake’s surface has dipped below 1,080 feet above sea level. The West’s drought is so bad that official plans for water rationing have now begun—with Arizona’s farmers first on the chopping block. Yes, despite the drought’s epicenter in California, it’s Arizona that will bear the brunt of the West’s epic dry spell.

The huge Lake Mead—which used to be the nation’s largest reservoir—serves as the main water storage facility on the Colorado River. Amid one of the worst droughts in millennia, record lows at Lake Mead are becoming an annual event—last year’s low was 7 feet higher than this year’s expected June nadir, 1,073 feet.

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