Remnants of cities from the Gold Rush era are revealed as water levels continue to hit record highs. Historic towns are charred, some reduced to ashes, as forest fires continue to ravage the western states.
Officials say it’s the harsh reality for one of America’s largest states and in California it’s a new normal.
“We need to stop thinking that drought is an emergency that only happens once in a while and we respond to it as a rare event, but recognize that this is becoming the new normal and we need to change approaches to water management. who say we have a new normal now and we have to handle it differently, ”California Direction of Water Resources director of interstate resources Jeanine Jones told Fox News.
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Old mine shafts, trees and the remains of buildings have reappeared in one of California’s largest reservoirs, Lake Oroville. The lake is now at its lowest level since September 1977, the same year California experienced one of the worst droughts.
“It’s kind of a whole new beast,” said Jared Rael.
Raël manages over a thousand properties on Lake Oroville at the Bidwell Canyon Marina. He was forced to take people out of the water because the water levels continue to drop.
Dozens of barges can now be found on the hills overlooking Lake Oroville. Due to the water levels exposing the trees that were growing before the area was flooded with water, these barges were forced to move and with little room for them and the only option was to land them again.
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“One way we look is what we see in California now reflects the expected impacts of climate change. The idea that things would get hotter and drier,” Jones said.
Warmer and drier also means there is an increased threat to forest fires.
“One of the things we definitely see in the summer during these very dry and hot years are the impacts of wildfires,” Jones said. “We saw it during the last drought and unfortunately we are seeing it again this year.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that California and several other western states experienced the hottest summer on record, surpassing the Dust Bowl summer of 1936 by less than 0.01 degrees.
California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah each recorded their hottest summer on record, while 16 other states recorded the five hottest summers on record.
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Almost 60% of the west faces “extreme drought” conditions and 98.32% of states face “abnormally dry” conditions.
“I hope we get some rain,” Rael said, a statement echoed by many in the West.
The rainy season is expected to start near or around the winter months, according to Jones.