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Digging into drought

The Mamas and the Papas famously sang, “It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours.”

Well, these days, not so much.

In an average year, as the page 1 story explains, Sonoma should see about 33 inches of rain. This year the total is 7.6 inches, with no rain in sight through the start of the New Year.

Drought cycles are not uncommon in California and droughts of the modern era – notably during the Dust Bowl years into the 1930s, 1976 to 1978 and 1987 to 1992 – were actually short-lived compared to epic droughts in medieval times, some of which are believed to have lasted more than 100 years, with far greater severity than those of the modern era.

Layered on top of what some scientists believe is a more systemically dry history than a wet one, California is also now confronting the projected effects of climate change, with the paradoxical impact of higher sea levels but less rain and snowpack in the Sierra.

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