Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought Friday morning at a press conference in San Francisco, formally recognizing that the record dearth of rainfall over the past two rainy seasons is an emergency with potentially dire consequences for California’s economy.
Brown’s declaration will allow for faster and simpler transfers of water between agencies and comes a day after the National Weather Service predicted the historically dry conditions will persist through April.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
Some water districts have already urged conservation. This week, the Dublin San Ramon Services District warned customers that current prices are based on “normal conditions” and a water shortage could lead to a rise in rates.
The current dry weather is the result of a high pressure mass in the North Pacific, which has been blocking cold, wet weather from reaching California for 13 months.
A high-pressure ridge in the North Pacific is not unusual. What makes this particular atmospheric phenomenon strange is its strength.
The state’s current drought is the 10th in the past century, according to a drought fact sheet from the Department of Water Resources.