A large swath of central Siskiyou County is now classified as being in “extreme drought,” the United States Drought Monitor reported this week. The rest of Siskiyou is experiencing moderate to severe drought.

A large swath of central Siskiyou County is now classified as being in “extreme drought,” the United States Drought Monitor reported this week. The rest of Siskiyou is experiencing moderate to severe drought.

More than 58% of California is in some state of drought, a number in stark contrast to last year’s numbers, when 4.32% t of the state was classified as abnormally dry.

Soil moisture is below the 10th percentile in many areas across northern California, the monitor reported, and United States Geological Survey 7-day average stream flows also continue to be below to much below normal for much of northern California.

Things slipped downhill rapidly since February, when 9.5% of the state was in drought, much of that in Siskiyou County. Before then, the state had been drought-free since early December 2019.

In February, the monitor pointed to precipitation deficits in central and southern sections of coastal California and in the central and southern Sierra, and a snowpack that was less than 60% of normal to date.

In May, the Klamath National Forest reported that both the height of the snow and water content were at just 8% of average, and many measurement sites had no snow left to measure.

According to the drought monitor, extreme drought like what much of Siskiyou County is experiencing can have the following consequences:

• Livestock need expensive supplemental feed, cattle and horses are sold; little pasture remains, producers find it difficult to maintain organic meat requirements

• Fruit trees bud early; producers begin irrigating in the winter

• Federal water is not adequate to meet irrigation contracts; extracting supplemental groundwater is expensive

• Dairy operations close

• Marijuana growers illegally tap water out of rivers

• Fire season lasts year-round; fires occur in typically wet parts of the state; burn bans are implemented

• Ski and rafting business is low, mountain communities suffer

• Orchard removal and well drilling company business increase; panning for gold increases

• Low river levels impede fish migration and cause lower survival rates

• Wildlife encroach on developed areas; little native food and water is available for bears, which hibernate less

• Water sanitation is a concern, reservoir levels drop significantly, surface water is nearly dry, flows are very low; water theft occurs

• Wells and aquifer levels decrease; homeowners drill new wells

• Water conservation rebate programs increase; water use restrictions are implemented; water transfers increase

• Water is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife and urban needs; reservoirs are extremely low; hydropower is restricted.

For more information about drought in California, go to https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA