LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement that California is in the midst of an epic drought comes as no surprise to skiers, fishermen and gardeners. With a sparse snowpack and piddling amounts of rain, the signs are everywhere. A few examples:
IT NEVER RAINS IN CALIFORNIA
Last year was the driest in 119 years of records. The Department of Water Resources said that Gasquet Ranger Station in Del Norte County, which averages nearly 100 inches of rain a year, ended the year with only 43.46 inches. Sacramento got 5.74 inches instead of the typical 18 inches, and downtown Los Angeles, which averaged 14.74 inches of rain, ended the year with 3.4 inches — beating a record low of 4.08 inches set in 1953.
PALTRY SNOWPACK EVIDENT FROM SPACE
The first snow survey of the winter this month found "more bare ground than snow," the Department of Water Resources said. The statewide water content was about 20 percent of average for this time of year. The snow water equivalent on Thursday was just 17 percent of normal for the day. Satellite photos taken this week of the Sierra Nevada snowpack — an important source of water come spring — shows a skinny snake of white in a stark brown landscape. On the same day last year, the region was a fluffy, swirling blanket of white.
'JUNEUARY' IN YOSEMITE
Yosemite National Park, where people normally are snowshoeing this time of year, is offering summer-like hikes instead. Warm weather and little snow have opened the Four Mile Trail from Yosemite Valley to the stunning vista that looks across at Half Dome and offers views of much of the park. The hut at the end of Glacier Point Road also is being promoted to hikers, not the cross-country skiers typically using it in winter months. "Our team is looking forward to offering skiing and other snow sports when conditions permit, but in the meantime, we are pleased to be able to offer some memorable experiences during 'Juneuary' in Yosemite," said Colin Baldock, guest recreation general manager for Delaware North Companies, which runs concessions in the park.