Calif. Faces Worst Drought Ever
With snowpack well below normal, state likely to face water rationing, higher food prices
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2009 3:45 PM CST
The snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada mountains is just 61% of normal, leading scientists to predict the state's worst drought on record.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – With winter precipitation lagging well below normal, California officials say residents should prepare for the state’s worst drought on record, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada—the state’s main water supply—is at just 61% of normal after an unusually sunny and dry January. “We’re definitely in really bad shape,” says a state meteorologist. “We just don’t have enough water.”

Water rationing in much of the state appears inevitable, and that could translate to higher food prices. Sonoma County, home to a sizable chunk of the US wine industry, could face a 50% cutback within weeks. “If you have limited water, and you don’t have the irrigation to keep it going ... it’s not going to be a bumper crop,” says a rep for the industry, which could lose millions.