Santa Cruz drought intensifies from ‘severe’ to ‘extreme’
The drought in Santa Cruz has quickly advanced, moving from the least severe classification, D0, to D3 in just the last three months.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, a joint effort from several U.S. government agencies along with the University of Nebraska, was updated Thursday to reveal that the drought has worsened in Santa Cruz County.
The new data shows Santa Cruz has moved from a D2, or “severe” drought classification, to D3, “extreme drought.” The monitor uses a combination of metrics including soil moisture and precipitation.
The situation in Santa Cruz has quickly advanced, moving from the least severe classification, D0, to D3 in just the last three months.
“When you see those types of changes, systematically over time, you should definitely take notice,” said Brian Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said he expects the county to move to the highest level of drought, D4 (exceptional drought), “probably sooner than later.”
According to Garcia, a combination of factors make this exceptional drought likely:
- The wet season is over and more rain is unlikely
- The winter was the second abnormally dry winter in a row
- The summer is expected to be warmer than average as the climate changes, evaporating what water is left in the system
Garcia added that drought of this severity in Santa Cruz is “not typical, but it’s also not unusual, because California is a boom or bust type state. We have these big water years and we have very low water years.” The consequences of this become serious when dry years come one after the other, as is now the case.