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Kern County's drought gets worse

Most of Kern County now classified as "extreme drought"
Posted at 6:31 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 18:50:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. —The latest drought report shows worsening conditions across California and here in kern county. 23ABC's Chief Meteorologist Elaina Rusk breaks down what that means for us as we head into the hot summer months. As of today, you can now see about two-thirds of Kern County are considered to be in "extreme" drought status, including all of our local mountains, the desert, and now the west side of the valley including the city of Bakersfield. For now the west side of the valley remains in severe drought, but conditions are expected to get worse in the coming weeks and months. "The winter we just had here in central California, was below normal. Unfortunately this is our second year in a row where we see below normal snowpack. There were parts of California, mainly along the central coast, that received significant amounts of precipitation, but for the most part, unfortunately most of California is heading back into drought conditions." In a one year comparison of the percentage of normal snowpack in the sierra nevada mountains, last year the southern sierra was about half of average at 59% of average, and this year is even drier with just 16% average. So with these dry conditions as we head into the hot summer months, we're expecting another dangerous wildfire season ahead. "Climate predition center's predicting above normal summer this year, for temperatures, with very low precipitation, above normal temperatures, we're going to start to see a lot of the vegetation start to cure, and it's going to start to become more volatile for fire weather." This has become our new normal here in California, with a record breaking fire season in 2020, in which nearly 10,000 fires burned more than 4 million acres killing 33 people in our state. Unfortunately statistics from Cal Fire show this year is already worse when compared to the same time period of January to April last year, and the weather and our changing climate is to blame. "But the trends that the scientists, that my colleagues and myself have been discussing, is that our normal wet season has been getting shorter, and more intense. So we'll have a shorter wet season, and more intense systems. So if we get one or two very intense systems that brings significant rain, we had a pretty good one you know even this year, but if you're only getting one or two of them as opposed to 10 or 15 over a longer stretch of time, we're noticing that the wet season is getting shorter and the storms are getting more intense." "And so with that we're starting to see the above normal temperatures. More days of 100° days, because the environment in itself, as it becomes dry, is more condusive for creating these heat islands or heat bubbles. And so we saw temperatures, down near LA of 130°, those kind of numbers unfortunately might become more widespread as this condition continues."