Update from the Pacific Institute California Drought Response Group – July 7

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For the latest updates about the California drought go to www.californiadrought.org

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This week in… Wildfires

Northern California has had a few large fires this month already. A fire that started on July 1 in Napa County is now 90% contained at 4,300 acres burned. The Monticello Fire in Yolo County has burned more than 6,000 acres and is 35% contained. Although evacuation orders have now been lifted, triple-digit temperatures and high winds continue to pose a threat to homes in the area.

The National Weather Service issued Fire Weather Watches for parts of northern California. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions conducive to fire could exist in the next 12-72 hours. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), these types of weather patterns include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.

According to CALFIRE’s incident information website, more than 57,000 acres have burned in 2014 to date. The table below lists only July fires; please visit CAL FIRE’s website for a more complete list of fires to date.

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In other news…

  • The California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator Corporation sent a joint letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, warning that water curtailments that cut the state’s generating capacity would threaten grid reliability and have “substantial potential for serious public health and safety impacts.”
  • The State Water Resources Control Board has issued curtailment notices to post-1914 water users on the North Fork Eel River, Main Stem Eel River, and the Van Duzen tributary. Last week the State Board approved emergency regulations to assure compliance with water rights curtailment orders.
  • The California Almond objective forecast for the 2014–2015 crop year – funded by the Almond Board of California and administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – has been issued. The forecast is predicting 2.1 billion meat pounds of almonds this year, up 7% from the USDA forecast issued in May.
  • The California legislature has adjourned for summer recess without agreeing to a new 2014 water bond, but has indicated they will continue to work on it through the summer.

California Drought Status

Drought Monitor

The drought got slightly worse this week; nearly 79% of the state is in extreme drought and more than 36% is in exception drought, up from 77% and 33% last week.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

Precipitation

California’s rainy season has officially, closing out the third below-average rainfall season in a row.

Reservoir Conditions

Statewide, California’s major reservoirs are at about 40% of total capacity and 54% of normal.

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Source: California Department of Water Resources