When The Rain Doesn’t Come

History_Great_Depression_Black_Blizzard_SF_still_624x352If you had been driving across California’s Central Valley (low land between mountains) recently, you would have seen a low-lying (just above the ground) cloud on the horizon (where the sky touches the earth).

The cloud stretched (spread out) as far as you could see on both sides of the road. And as you approached (moved closer to) it, you would have discovered that it was a cloud of dust that was being driven (pushed) by a strong wind. It looked similar to the cloud in the photograph, which was taken during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Experiences like this give evidence (signs that show that something exists) that California is experiencing the worst drought in its history. Droughts, which are periods of time when an area does not receive enough water, are not unusual. Many countries and other areas of the U.S. have experienced them.

Droughts like California’s are the result of receiving less rain or snow than usual, often for several years. The annual rainfall (amount of rain received in one year) in California has been much lower than usual for the last three years. Last year, for example, our state capital Sacramento, which usually receives 18.5 inches (470 mm), received only 3.5 inches (88.9 mm). And Los Angeles, which usually receives about 15 inches (385 mm), received only 3.6 inches (91.4 mm).

The situation created by the low rainfall has been made more serious by a small snowpack – the snow that collects in the mountains during the winter. The snowpack is important, because when it melts, the water from it flows into rivers and reservoirs (a lake where water is stored) until it is needed. About one-third (33%) of the water California uses usually comes from the snowpack, but the snowpack at the end of last winter was much smaller – about 85% smaller – than usual.

The drought is a particular problem for farmers in the Central Valley, an important agricultural (farming) area. Farmers there grow tomatoes, almonds, grapes, apricots, asparagus, and other crops (plants used for food) and raise cattle (cows) for milk and meat. A significant (important) part of America’s food crops come from the Central Valley. Now, because of the drought, some of the water needed to grow the crops has been cut off (stopped).

So far (until now), farmers and farm workers have been hit the hardest (affected most negatively). Some farmers are concerned that they will not be able to continue to operate their farms.

All Californians (people who live in California) have been asked to voluntarily (because they want to) use 20% less water than usual. And the state recently announced a fine (money you pay for breaking a law) of $500 for wasting water – for example by watering your lawn more than twice a week or washing your sidewalk or driveway. If the drought gets worse, stricter (more difficult) laws may be needed.

While we try to preserve (save) as much water as we can, we wait and hope for more rain and snow next year. And we are hopeful, because meteorologists (weather scientists) believe that we may have an El Niño year (a year with more precipitation (rain and snow) than usual) next year.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you will find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo courtesy of History.com.

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20 Responses to When The Rain Doesn’t Come

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Warren,

    I have read/heard more than once about that problem over there.

    After checking on a local website, I have found out that over here we get an average of 1540 mm of rain per year.

    I do not know whether that is too much or too little, but I can say that here rains a lot. Just these two last months, June and July we had just a couple of weeks of sun.

    One report I remember from the radio said that over there there has been a boom in water well drilling. I remember this guy in the business of drilling being very busy.

    There were farmer waiting weeks for having their well drilled and some of them were willing to pay big bucks for have it done earlier.


  2. Dent says:

    Hello Warren
    We see this reality in the world and in most countries.
    Unfortunately irregular ushing of water sources involved human in a big trouble.
    In my opinion each person in the world should consider bad features of water shortage in him/her life so that person certainly use water in proper ways.
    I honestly hope the water problem solve in the world as soon as possible.

  3. Behrooz says:

    Hello Warren

    I think the water problem is one of the important problem in the world. But if we would use water in correct ways, we could stop these problems.
    Unfortunately many people don’t use a water correctly.The sooner people will be begin to solve problem, the sooner we will be aproach to the goal

  4. Marcos says:

    Hello everyone

    The same situation we see here. I don’t know how is in California, but here, I think, water is cheap or not expensive enough, even recent research show that 30% to 60% of water lost on way from reservoirs to houses. You did hear right, flow on way. While we have a drought in my area, others places in my country you can see a lot of rain, rivers over 15 mts above and families lost your houses. While water is a solution here, water is a problem for those peoples.

    Thanks Warren

  5. Hilario says:

    Climate cycles have been there for long and the droughts issue, what it comes me up to my mind, as many other times it does it, is the very reflection of the repetitive human stupidity, especially when they are voting politic options. Let´s name randomly just some of them: Virus scientific research, mother cells for oncologic treatment, poorness and inequality, renewables, weapon´s industry and subsequent conflict generation. What more? Where are all those budget allocations wasted in ideal dreams like the absurd space race and the corrupted military and energy complexes which are leadering Russia and the U.S. They publicly trick to voters by saying that advanced findings output are triggering general development but they only feed their selfinterest, that is, the energy and military combo business. Like the American dream today, that one really needs to be asleep to believe it, the space career´s spending allocation like the stopping in developing alternative sources of clean energy, are clearly an example.
    Wouldn´t it be much more worthy to investigate climate cycles for instance, instead of complaining about its changes all the time? Wouldn´t that be the real combat against hungry, starvation, natural devastation? This status only benefits, by the way, those who own big swimming pools, to those who waste, spoil and pollute air by using a lot of gasoline and kerosene, those fiscal evaders, so called good-thought patriots that gather to drink tea at a party. Today, ideologies have no sense, curative taxes and public income allocation have a great deal of it. They sell fear but you don´t have why to buy it.

  6. Dan says:

    It is interesting to read about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and what caused it.

    Apparently that is a natural phenomena plus, in that case, the human hand.

    It is also fascinating looking at pictures and videos of dust storms.

    For obvious reasons nobody want to see that in its backyard, nevertheless it must be quite an experience witnessing one of those. They are quite impressive and take your breath away.

    I was looking at a recent episode of this natural phenomena occurred July 2011 in Arizona. Just beautiful and scary at the same time. Those things are HUGE.

    It looks like those disaster movies.


  7. Dan says:

    Me again.

    I just wanted to inform those who are interested that I just saw an interesting video on You tube about Central Valley.

    Look for: Life in the Central Valley of California 1949. Little bit old, but still valid i guess. It is just ten minutes long.

    My hat goes off to all those people involved, today and in the past, in turning that land in such a huge and rich vegetable/fruit garden.


  8. Parviz says:

    Hi Dan,
    I noticed that you are about to become the caterpillar of this blog, you are surrounded by newcomers.
    I love rejuvenating.
    You know, new people new ideas, I like that.

    In contrary, the topic is not new to me.
    Living in the south for almost 30 years, I exactly know what Warren means.
    Clouds of dust driven from Saudi Arabia, known as Saudi Sahara, almost as black that shorten your sight to 15 meters.
    These, not only make commutation and transportation slow or impossible in some cases, bring about variety of diseases and germs/bacteria non native to the area.
    The reason I abandoned my hometown, the main reason I should say, is this dust.
    Before Sadam Hosein shut down by USA army, they used to spray burnt oil in the Saudi Sahara in order to stop sands from moving. That would work very well, because the oil would keep the sands in place.
    And no dust clouds would form in neighbor countries.
    Thank you warren,

  9. Dan says:

    What a coincidence. There was on of those Friday in Arizona.

    I have learned they are called “Haboob”.

    Hey Parviz,

    First time I get to know about that way of stopping the sand. I am surprised.

    Is not there a more environmentally friendly technique for getting the same result?

    If that is true, and I guess it is, they really have lots of oil over there to throw it away like that.


  10. Parviz says:

    Hey Dan,
    It is kind of double-edged sword, you know.
    No plantation or agriculture is impossible due to water shortage and the velocity of moving-sand grains.
    The best way to trap the sand grains- environmentally speaking- would be to grow plants or trees on them.
    But, it is not possible because the sands are always in the move.
    on the other hand if you do nothing and left them intact, the air flow would take them from were they are to many miles away.
    Which mostly cause dust cloud formation, which in turn cause another problems that I mentions before.
    Good for you Dan you live in an area where there is a lot of rain.
    1540 mm rain would total 10 years raining in south where I used to live.
    You should invite me over, Dan.
    I love rain or being in the rain.
    At some point, I will “be gone with the rain”.
    Thank you,

  11. Dan says:

    Thank you Parviz,

    I do feel lucky living over here because it is a beautiful place.

    But, isn’t all our planet beautiful? Take the desert for instance. It is really fascinating. I would love to see it.

    And there is not just one kind of desert, there are many. I would also love to posses a Camel and have the wisdom, knowledge of the Bedouins about their environment.

    I am good with animals, and I would treat my camel very well. They are beautiful like every other animal around.


  12. Dai says:

    I am from Chain ,I never go there ,But I think it is must be very wonderful.
    because I saw the picture .
    I hope I can get there in the future.
    Thank you

  13. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    After these last opinions about the topic, what can I add to? Dan, Parviz, Marcos, Behrooz, Dent, all of them have given good explanations about climate conditions. Meteorologists have developed mathematical studies and have tools that make them predict the climate with good precision. It’s always read my fellows opinion.

  14. Thiago Messias says:

    Thank you one more time for these informations.. It´s so helpful 😀
    Also, thank you again for the podcasts and the Leaning guides.. I have lots of fun listening to it every week.


  15. emiliano says:

    Watching the TV news I could see the problem you are telling us, it is really a big difficult subject.
    Some people said that next World´s War could be for the water and we are not concern how important
    element it is for life every where round the earth.

    The last World´s Champion Cup of Brasil I was in Berlin, Brandenburg Door watching the tweenty
    big screens where hundred thousands of Berlineses, families, youngs, old ages, teen agers, and me
    emiliano, were awaiting to see the final match.
    It was incredible as rain falls three times along the day, in the morning, noon, and finally at nigh
    when the football match was in Brasil.
    It was pouring like it was “The Great Flood” and all my clouthings were wet, even the waterproof
    garment over me was wet, without any use.
    After the first and the second rain flood the sun shined again and every one took off their clouthings
    and put them under the hot Sun´s rays, it was somehow funny.

    So, Germany it is a green country, very nice green colours and it is because you never know if it
    is going to rain or not.
    I have to pull off away my waterproof over clothe and have to buy an umbrella in July, what is
    really odd and incredible for a Spanish person like me.

    It was pouring all the time over thousands of German people who were watching their country playing
    the final Cup and I was really sorry for them, but at the end every body was draught to the bone
    but very very happy, me too for them.


    Very sorry and concerned with the people of California, also about the great fires that are taken
    place in your beautiful land Warren.
    Very very sorry indeed, my best wishes to the next year for all Callifornians, it is sure rain is
    going to fall over the dry lands of your country Warren.


  16. emiliano says:

    Warren, am I wrong or Ediger is a German´s origin second name?

    Thank you. emiliano

  17. Parviz says:

    Hi emiliano
    “The traveling man”

  18. Dent says:

    Hello dear emiliano
    I’m really thankful for your kindly writing about me in previous post
    I consider you as my dear grandfather and enjoy from talking by intelligent person like you.
    I watched the final game in the World Cup games and I were assured that Germany will be champion.
    My aunt lives in Germany and I know this country is great and beautiful like Spain and also like my country ,Iran!
    I hope you have glad time in your trips ,with your family and in the ESL pod with us.

    Best regards

  19. Betty says:

    Hello to Everyone!

    Thanks Dear Warren for this serious topic. You always give us great articles which are so valuable.

    I am sorry I have no time to write much because I have far too much work waiting for me to do. I want to write something here today, as writing English is also one of the many things I want to do everyday.

    I was in LA last month and my daughter told me that LA was having drought problem. Her message didn’t stay in my mind for long because I could not let any problem spoil my holiday.

    I really appreciate all the messages above from our friends. They are real people real stories around the world. Truly intellectual and inspirational.

    Water is very expensive and I always try not to waste it. I can’t afford to. But as Marcos says above,

    “30% to 60% of water lost on way from reservoirs to houses”.

    Yet the water companies keep trying to educate their customers how not to waste water.

    I also appreciate Marcos’s saying

    “While we have a drought in my area, others places in my country you can see a lot of rain, rivers over 15 mts above and families lost your houses. While water is a solution here, water is a problem for those peoples.”

    Chinese old saying “Water is Money” is so true. Water and money affect us human being’s life in a similar way.

    I must go now, too much to do. Hope to have more time to read and write soon.

    Many thanks again Warren,

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  20. Betty says:

    Hi Dan

    Thanks for your messages for me. I’m very sorry for not able to reply sooner.

    My elder sister wanted a long holiday in England and she came to England almost a month ago, staying in my house with me. She will finish her holiday in England in 3 weeks’ time, and then she will continue to go to many many more holidays around the world.

    I don’t have time to go to sightseeing with my sister but I don’t want to disappoint her. My eyes are not very well but I have been driving her and at one time her friend and her friend’s daughter around England.

    It was dangerous driving with my poor eye-sight but I did it.

    Anyway, I want to say that I was not trying to hint that you expressed anger about poor young women marrying rich old men. I just use the sentence to bring out what I wanted to say in the latter part of my post.

    I know you are extremely open minded not judgmental. I have not pointed my finger at anyone.

    Dan you have been writing very good post here and I admire your consistence in your contribution in this blog. We have many new friends contributing in this blog, but sometimes everyone disappear and gone quiet. Suddenly your post appeared and it’s like a ray of light in the darkness for us who have been waiting for a new post.

    I must go now. Hope to have more time to write again soon.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

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