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Calif. could be facing major drought

October 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Current dry conditions in California have state water officials fearing the worst. They say if the state doesn't get enough snow in the mountains this winter, we could be facing the worst drought in California history. Like most California reservoirs, Folsom Dam shows how dry it has been. With barely any rain or nearby snow runoff, this one is just at 25% of capacity.

In normal times, visitors could launch there boats from the ramps. But with two consecutive years of drought, there's not a drop of water here.

So, people have to drive three-quarters of a mile across what's usually the bottom of the lake just to see shoreline.

We even caught a truck doing donuts where a boat should be floating.

"I'm very concerned. If we don't have a wet winter. If we have an average or critically dry conditions, we will be facing the worst drought in California history," Wendy Martin, CA Dept. of Water Resources.

"You tend to see these oscillations come out of the Indian Ocean," said Steve Goldstein, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

There's hope in a weather phenomenon currently way west of here that could signal a decent start to a wet winter.

What meteorologists call the Madden-Julian Oscilation, petered out too early last season.

"This year, we're predicting a near normal to above normal winter in the mountains because some of the things that caused us to dry out from February onward last year, aren't in place this year," said Goldstein.

That's giving California farmers and ranchers hope. Many didn't have enough water this year, resulting in $260 million in losses.

"It's only going to get worse next year, if we don't have rain or snow pack this season," said Dave Kranz, CA Farm Bureau.

The forecast also looks promising for the California ski industry, which made a little over $7 million last season. That is about half-a-million less than normal.

But unless this winter's storms break all records, water rationing and cutbacks will likely stay in place because reservoirs are that much behind.


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