This is what California’s ‘mega-drought’ looks like up close

Lake Oroville in northern California, which helps irrigate 25 per cent of all US crops and power major hydroelectric plants, is sitting at about 37 per cent capacity, writes senior climate correspondent Louise Boyle

Monday 19 July 2021 22:43 BST
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The water level at Lake Oroville in northern California has dropped several hundred feet. It is expected to reach a record low later this summer
The water level at Lake Oroville in northern California has dropped several hundred feet. It is expected to reach a record low later this summer (Louise Boyle)
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Even if you care deeply about the climate crisis, the barrage of daily headlines can be hard to wrap your mind around.

Take the “mega-drought” currently gripping California, for instance. The Golden State’s reservoirs are 50 per cent lower than usual this time of year, a situation so perilous that an emergency has been declared in 41 of 58 counties.

Alarming figures but what does that mean on the ground? I had a first-hand look earlier this month in Butte County while reporting on California’s looming wildfire season.

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