Drought Now Covers 100% of California

And the snowpack is melting quickly, too. 
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California's drought has finished its conquest of the state: 100 percent of the land here is now in a drought condition, and 96 percent of it is in a severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

"This week marks the first time in the 15-year history of the USDM that 100 percent of California was in moderate to exceptional drought," writes NOAA's Richard Heim in a drought monitoring report.

It's gotten this bad, despite March's decent rains.

And the state's hydrological conditions might be worse than they look here. Snowpack serves as a natural reservoir, allowing humans to capture the runoff during the long California dry season. If it's warmer, though, more precipitation falls as rain, instead of snow, eliminating the storage in the mountains. 

And that's what's happening this year. While precipitation in the northern Sierras is running at 60 percent of normal, the snowpack is sitting at 13 percent of normal in the northern Sierras and 22 percent statewide. It's melting quickly, too, thanks to hotter than normal temperatures. 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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