Utah is encouraging people to catch up to twice the fish they’re normally allowed as rising water temperatures threaten to kill off supplies

fishing
  • Utah is loosening fishing restrictions as drought and hot temperatures threaten to kill fish.
  • The state says the changes will allow anglers to “harvest additional fish prior to fish loss.”
  • Warm water has less dissolved oxygen. For fish, this can stunt growth, cause disease, and even kill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Utah officials are loosening limits on fishing, in some cases allowing people to catch and keep twice as many fish as they previously could, as heat and drought conditions threaten fish survival this summer.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has made emergency amendments to its fishing guidelines twice so far this year. The first, made in late May, applies to several reservoirs, allowing anglers there to catch and keep more fish of various species.

This change was made “in anticipation of low water levels due to drought conditions,” the division said in a press release at the time.

“Fish loss is expected due to adverse conditions,” the division said on its website. “The intentions of these regulation changes are to liberalize harvest and provide anglers the opportunity to harvest additional fish prior to fish loss, if loss occurs.”

Droughts reduce the water available in various water bodies. Smaller amounts of water heat more quickly and reach hotter temperatures than larger amounts of water. In addition, hotter water has less dissolved oxygen than colder water. These factors combined put fish at risk for stunted growth, disease, and sometimes death.

The division said at the time that it would also cut back on fish stocking in the affected waters to “minimize the amount of fish that may die as a result of the anticipated low water levels.”

“Despite low water levels in some lakes, fishing will be very good in a lot of places this summer,” Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said in the press release at the time. “The number of waters where we are expecting drought impacts is very small, and we anticipate that the majority of waterbodies, including the major fisheries in the state, won’t be affected.”

The change will stay in effect until the end of October.

Another change, implemented last month, was “prompted by ongoing hot, dry conditions,” according to the division’s website. This amendment allows people to catch and keep more trout when fishing.

“Community fisheries are small ponds and it is anticipated that temperatures in these ponds this summer will exceed the maximum temperature tolerated by trout,” the division said on its website.

This change will remain in place through August.

Heat waves and drought have swept many parts of the country already this summer. Last month, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox asked residents to take part in a “weekend of humble prayer for rain.” Meanwhile, drought maps indicate the western US is the driest it has been in two decades. Last month, the Pacific Northwest suffered a massive heatwave, in which Portland recorded its hottest day ever.

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CA Gov. Gavin Newsom asks California residents to cut water use by 15% as drought ravages the state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked residents of the Golden State Thursday to cut their water use by 15%.
  • The move comes as drought conditions intensify across the western US.
  • The state is encouraging locals to “do common sense things” like reducing the amount of time spent in the shower, Newsom said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom asked residents of the Golden State Thursday to cut their water use by 15% as drought conditions intensify across the western US.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order to “encourage” voluntary water conservation efforts across the state.

“I want to underscore voluntary water conservation,” Newsom said at a press briefing. “We are hopeful that people will take that mindset brought into the last drought and extend that forward with a 15% voluntary reduction not only on residents, but industrial, commercial operations and agricultural operations.”

Newsom explained that the state is encouraging locals to “do common sense things” like reducing the amount of time spent in the shower and doing laundry and running a dishwasher only when there is a full load.

“I’m not here as a nanny-state. I’m not trying to be oppressive,” he said. “These are voluntary standards.”

Additionally, Newsom added nine counties to an emergency drought proclamation, which now includes 50 of the state’s 58 counties.

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Images from space show California’s forests and lakes drying out in a record mega-drought

california artificial lake green lawns trees oasis in dry desert
An artificial lake, Shadow Lake Estates, next to desert landscape in Indio, California on June 29, 2021.

The climate crisis is bearing down hard on the western US.

Historic drought and heat are converging on western states to create the perfect storm for depleted reservoirs, strained power grids, and rampant wildfires later this summer. The effects are so stark, you can see them from space.

Satellite images show that the hills outside Los Angeles are significantly more parched, brown, and dry than they were this time last year. Drag the slider back and forth on the below image to see the difference.

“I’m worried about this summer,” Kathleen Johnson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Irvine, told The Guardian. “This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years. And the reason is linked directly to human-caused climate change.”

In the US Drought Monitor’s 20-year history of tracking drought, the West and Southwest are drier than they’ve ever been. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has now declared drought emergencies in 41 of the state’s 58 counties, encompassing 30% of California’s population.

Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in California and, like many western lakes, it has receded significantly over the past few months. NASA satellite images below show a bathtub ring – white layers of calcium carbonate and other minerals exposed when the water level drops – along the lake’s shorelines.

The reservoir is at just 38% of its full capacity – 48% of the historical average, according to California’s Department of Water Resources.

California’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, has fallen to historically low levels, too. Normally, the lake’s water pumps through the Edward Hyatt Power Plant to generate electricity for 800,000 homes. But officials told CNN that they expect the low water levels will force the plant to close in late summer.

lake oroville full june 2019 and dry receding june 2021
Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir, on June 4, 2019 (left) and June 9, 2021 (right).

“A lot of the slack in our system has already been used up,” Roger Pulwarty, a senior scientist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told The Guardian.

A climate emergency is raising temperatures, straining power grids, and sparking fires

An ever-growing body of research shows that drought events are becoming more common and more severe as human activity fills the atmosphere with heat-trapping pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane.

Rising global temperatures are changing the western US profoundly: Warmer air causes more moisture to evaporate, drying out soil. That raises the risk of drought and leaves forests full of tinder-dry foliage, primed for wildfires.

wildfire smoke plumes over dry hills and a highway road
Smoke plumes rise from a wildfire in Arizona on June 7, 2021.

Heat waves only make the situation worse. They’re occuring three times more often and lasting about a day longer than they did in the 1960s, according to records of such waves across 50 US cities. They also start earlier and continue later into the year – the heat-wave season is 47 days longer than it was in the 1960s.

Two record-shattering heat waves struck western states in June. The first one washed over the Southwest and strained California’s power grid. Temperatures reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Las Vegas, Nevada; 115 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona; and topped 110 degrees for eight days straight in Tucson, Arizona.

heat map shows heat wave across US southwest
Air temperatures across the continental US during the afternoon of June 15, 2021.

The most recent heat wave rolled over the Pacific Northwest last weekend and sat there for several days.

Many of the cities that were hit hardest, including Seattle and Portland, have never experienced such temperatures – in some cases breaking their previous records by double digits. Temperatures in Lytton, a town in British Columbia, hit 116 degrees Fahrenheit – the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada. The town broke that record the following day, when temperatures climbed to 118 degrees.

It’s not yet clear how many people died from heat-related illness during the Pacific Northwest heat wave, but the Associated Press reported that the death toll is likely in the hundreds.

Fire department helps man in Oregon amidst heat wave
Emergency personnel help treat a man experiencing heat exposure at a cooling center during a heat wave in Salem, Oregon on June 26, 2021.

“Much of the western United States will continue the trend of hot and dry weather, much like the summer of 2020,” Brandon Buckingham, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, told Insider last month. “Each and every western heat wave throughout the summer will only heighten wildfire risks.”

Heat waves also prompt people to crank up air conditioners, causing energy demand to spike. This can strain the power grid and lead to rolling blackouts.

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Photos show the ‘bathtub ring’ along a parched Los Angeles reservoir, as California’s drought grows more dire

An aerial view of reservoir tucked in between a mountainous landscape under a bright sky.
Aerial view of the reservoir nestled in the San Gabriel Mountain Range.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in 41 California counties, representing 30% of the state’s population.
  • Reservoirs across the state are running dry.
  • Photographer Ted Soqui captured the dramatic “bathtub ring” at the San Gabriel Reservoir, just outside Los Angeles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The three-mile-long San Gabriel Reservoir, nestled in the mountains above Los Angeles, is running dry.

California saw significantly less rain and snow this year, and drought conditions this summer have left much of the state increasingly parched.

Across California, many reservoirs and lakes are experiencing a “bathtub ring” phenomena: Declining water levels expose white rings around the edges of these bodies of water – the result of calcium carbonate and other minerals attached to the rock. The more rings that are visible, the lower the water level.

Photographs of the San Gabriel Reservoir offer a hint at how severe the drought could get in Southern California.

Rings are seen along rocks above a reservoir, showing where the water line once was.
Aerial view of the “bathtub ring” phenomena around the San Gabriel Reservoir.

A close-up of the rings that form along the rocks, showing where the water line once was.
Detail of the newly exposed “bathtub ring” phenomena on the side of the San Gabriel Reservoir as it dries out.

In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom expanded the state’s emergency drought declaration to cover 41 counties, representing 30 percent of the state’s population. The governor’s office attributed the situation to especially hot temperatures brought on by climate change, as well as extremely dry mountaintop soil that absorbs water that would otherwise flow into the state’s water collection systems.

“Extraordinarily warm temperatures in April and early May separate this critically dry year from all others on California record,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The giant reservoirs in Northern California – Folsom Lake, Lake Oroville, and Shasta – are also seeing low water levels after less snow and rain runoff came down from the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

A bald eagle is seen resting on a leaf-less tree amid a parched landscape.
A Bald Eagle rests near the reservoir.

An aerial view shows the bottom of the reservoir.
The bottom of the reservoir becomes exposed as it dries out.

Most of Los Angeles’ water is pumped over the Tejon pass from northern California. The water from the San Gabriel reservoir, which holds more than 54 million cubic meters of water when full, mostly serves the San Gabriel Valley.

Significant rain and snow fall is not expected until November.

An aerial view of the reservoir shows a swirl of patterns.
Rorschach-like patterns now appear on the newly exposed bottom of the San Gabriel Reservoir.

A wide aerial view of the reservoir dam area.
Wide view of the southern area of the reservoir’s dam area. The reservoir is now almost empty with a sliver if water running through it.

The barren, dry landscape is seen around the reservoir.
The terrain around the San Gabriel Reservoir is now fully exposed.

Ted Soqui is a photojournalist based in L.A. See more of his work here.

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Drought maps show the western US at its driest in 20 years – a ticking time bomb for even more fires and power failures

low water levels at lake oroville reveal bare shorelines
Low water levels at California’s Lake Oroville, June 16, 2021.

The western US was already withering in severe drought when a heat wave struck last week. Temperatures reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Las Vegas, 115 in Phoenix, and over 110 for eight days straight in Tucson.

Daily highs shattered hundreds of records across the West, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency, saying the heat wave put “significant demand and strain on California’s energy grid.”

The hottest months lie ahead, so this early extreme weather could foreshadow another devastating fire season. Last year’s fires burned a record 4 million acres in California, 1.07 million in Oregon, and at least 713,000 in Washington.

Current drought conditions across the West and Southwest are more widespread and severe than they’ve ever been in the 20 years the US Drought Monitor has been mapping them.

Map of droughts in US from June 2021
A recent drought map of the US shows “exceptional” drought levels in the West.

Compare that to June of last year, mapped below.

Drought map of the US from 2020
A drought map of the US from June 2020 shows moderate drought in the western region of the country.

“I’m worried about this summer,” Kathleen Johnson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Irvine, told The Guardian. “This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years. And the reason is linked directly to human-caused climate change.”

Scientists can’t attribute an individual drought or heat wave directly to climate change. But rising global temperatures are changing the western US profoundly: Warmer air causes more moisture to evaporate, which leads soil to dry out. That raises the risk of drought and leaves forests full of tinder-dry foliage, primed for wildfires.

Heat waves occur three times more often and last about a day longer than they did in the 1960s, according to records of such waves across 50 US cities. They also start earlier and continue later into the year – the heat-wave season is 47 days longer than it was in the 1960s.

The drought turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust
The drought turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust

“Much of the western United States will continue the trend of hot and dry weather, much like the summer of 2020,” Brandon Buckingham, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, told Insider. “Each and every western heat wave throughout the summer will only heighten wildfire risks.”

Meteorologists expect yet another heat wave, mostly over Northern California, next week.

Summer may bring blackouts, water shortages, and wildfires

california wildfire lnu complex fire.JPG
A burning home seen along Cherry Glen Road during the LNU Lighting Complex Fire on the outskirts of Vacaville, California, on August 19, 2020.

Hundreds of thousands of Californians already face water-use restrictions in the Bay Area, since reservoirs are dwindling and there’s almost no snowpack to replenish them. Gov. Newsom has declared drought emergencies in 41 of the state’s 58 counties, encompassing 30% of California’s population.

Lake Mead – the largest reservoir in the US, which provides water to 25 million people across Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico – is at its lowest level since it was filled in the 1930s.

California’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, has fallen to “alarming levels,” a California Energy Commission spokesperson told CNN on Thursday. Normally, the lake’s water pumps through the Edward Hyatt Power Plant to generate electricity for 800,000 homes. But the reservoir is currently at just 35% capacity – less than half the historical average.

heat map of US heat wave shows record temperatures above 110 degrees across southwest
Temperatures across the West and Southwest reached record highs during the June heat wave.

When heat waves roll in, even more water evaporates. At the same time, people crank up air conditioners, causing energy demand to spike. This can strain the power grid and lead to rolling blackouts. It happened last year: When a heat wave hit in August, hundreds of thousands of residents lost power in increments of up to 2.5 hours. Those were California’s first rolling blackouts in 19 years.

That’s different from PG&E’s safety shutoffs, though, which are meant to prevent aging power lines from starting wildfires and can last for days. PG&E has warned that such shutoffs could be more frequent this year than in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

lake mead's low waters expose pale cliffs behind the hoover dam
Low water levels expose the edges of the Hoover Dam reservoir of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada, June 9, 2021.

With no end to the drought in sight, officials expect they’ll be forced to close Edward Hyatt Power Plant plant in two or three months, CNN reported.

That’s the time of year when wildfires typically peak. But already this year, blazes have forced evacuations in California’s Monterey and Shasta counties. Smoke from fires in Arizona and Utah has billowed over Colorado.

wildfire smoke plumes over dry hills and a highway road
Smoke plumes rise from a wildfire in Arizona, June 7, 2021.

An active monsoon season in July and August may chip away at the drought in the Southwest, Buckingham said, but West Coast states will probably see no such relief.

“The fires we saw in the last couple of years were really awful, and this year it seems like we’re on that same trajectory,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Guardian. “It kind of feels like deja vu.”

Grace Kay contributed reporting.

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Take a look at some of the lakes in California that have been swallowed up by the ‘megadrought’

California drought
  • California has been hit by a “megadrought” that has dried up key reservoirs in the state.
  • Entire lakes have shrunk exponentially, leaving yachts and docks beached on dry land.
  • Nearly 95% of the state is experiencing “severe drought” and is susceptible to wild fires.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California is facing its worst drought in over four years.

Over 37 million people have already been impacted by the “megadrought” and nearly 95% of the state has been classified as experiencing “Severe Drought,” which puts the land in significant danger of wildfires, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

Last year, California land was consumed by over 8,200 wildfires – a number double the state’s previous record. This year, scorching weather has dried out reservoirs and made the state even more susceptible to breakout wildfires than the record 2020 season. NIDIS analysts call the outlook for the land “grim.”

california wildfire
October 15, 2017.

Water levels of California’s over 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be at this time of year, Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis told the Associated Press.

In April, scorching weather turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust. The reservoir is not expected to see rain fall until the end of the year.

The drought turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust
The drought turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust

On Wednesday, the drought dried up a lake so much that it potentially exposed a decades old mystery, allowing officials to find a plane that had crashed in 1965.

A composite image showing Folsom Lake, California, at drought levels in 2017, and a sonar image of a plane underwater there.
Folsom Lake, California, under drought conditions in 2017 (L), and the sonar image of a plane there taken by Seafloor Systems (R)

The California drought has been caused by climate change which has pushed temperatures an average of about 2 degrees hotter, drying out soil and melting Sierra snow rivers, which causes less water to soak into the ground, as well as flow through rivers and reservoirs. The state also endured two unusually dry winters that didn’t bring needed storms to the area.

Officials are predicting the water level of Lake Oroville – a primary body of water that helps the state generate energy through hydroelectric power plants – will hit a record low in August. If that happens, they would need to shut down a major hydroelectric power plant, putting extra strain on the electrical grid during the hottest part of the summer.

Earlier this month, about 130 houseboats had to be hauled out of the lake as its water levels hit 38% capacity. The water levels are only at about 45% of average June levels, according to California Department of Water Resources.

House boats pulled out of Lake Orovill

It’s going to be a rough summer for boat owners in the state.

Pictures from the Associated Press show massive lakes have run dry, leaving boats and docks completely beached

Boats at Fulsom Lake

Experts say the drought could devastate local wildlife populations, as well as California’s tourism industry.

California drought

In April, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference in the dried up waterbed of Lake Mendocino. Where he stood there should have been about 40 feet of water.

“This is without precedent,” Newsom said. “Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment.”

California drought

The month before, the California Department of Water Resources reduced farmers and growers to 5% of their expected water allocation in March. A move that has farmers leaving large portions of their land unseeded, while other have been forced to purchase supplemental water, which comes at a hefty cost. Supplemental water was priced at $1,500 to $2,000 per acre-foot in mid-May, according to a report from California Farm Bureau.

It has also made it difficult for ranchers to feed and water their livestock

California drought

As California temperatures continue to rise while water reservoirs fall, the state could be in for a devastating summer. From increased fears for wildfires to the impact on state agriculture and tourism, California residents are bracing for the worst drought season since 2014.

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Mexico’s air force has a new mission: seeding clouds to combat drought

Mexico air force
Mexican air force aircraft release smoke with the colors of the Mexican flag as they fly over the Independence Day military parade in Mexico City, September 16, 2013.

  • Areas of Mexico facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions have increased due to lack of rain.
  • To combat the prolonged drought, Mexico’s air force has been assigned a new mission: seeding clouds.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Mexican air force has been assigned a new mission: seeding clouds in an effort to combat the prolonged drought.

The drought has affected as much as 85% of Mexico’s territory since July last year, leaving large reservoirs at exceptionally low levels, straining water resources for drinking, farming, and irrigation.

As of May 31 the area affected had declined to 72% due to rainfall in many parts of the country. However, areas facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions – located in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Colima and Michoacán – increased due to a shortage of rain.

Cloud seeding thickens clouds and increases the probability of rain by up to 15%, using an acetone solution and silver iodide, which is commonly used as an antiseptic or in photography.

The chemical, prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, is transported by plane to clouds at 5,000 meters high.
Air force pilot Guadalupe Rojas explained the method.

“When we arrive at the area, we do a preliminary reconnaissance before starting the seeding. The type of clouds is analyzed, and once safety is guaranteed, we take an entry point and enter below the cloud. We search for any ascending currents and spread the chemical,” he said.

The process was tested last March in the San Quintín Valley, Baja California, and later in Nuevo León and Coahuila to help battle fires resulting from the drought.

Air force meteorology expert Francisco Ramírez said the operation is weather dependent. “We always need adequate weather conditions. In the case of Nuevo León there was a fire, but a cold spell helped and … [the cloud seeding] worked,” he said.

He added that the operation will continue in Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Sonora, where the drought remains prevalent.

With reports from Milenio.

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Utah governor asks residents to pray for rain to combat a severe drought

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City.
In this March 18, 2021, file photo, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during his monthly news conference in Salt Lake City.

  • Gov. Spencer Cox asked for Utahns to engage in a “weekend of prayer” to combat the state’s drought.
  • “We need more rain, and we need it now,” he said. “We need some divine intervention.”
  • According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, the entire state is deemed “abnormally dry.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah on Thursday asked state residents to engage in a “weekend of prayer” for rain amid a severe drought.

Cox’s request came after he declared a state of emergency last month. The entire state is considered to be “abnormally dry,” with 90.2 percent of Utah undergoing an “extreme drought” and 62.2 percent of the state experiencing an “exceptional drought,” according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Under such conditions, there is an increased risk of fire danger and native vegetation is adversely impacted.

“By praying collaboratively and collectively, asking God or whatever higher power you believe in, for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continuing drought,” he said in a video. “Please join me and Utahns, regardless of religious affiliation, in a weekend of humble prayer for rain.”

Cox detailed the measures that he’s already promoted to prevent a strain on existing water reserves but was frank in his assessment of the lack of moisture throughout the state.

“I’ve already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets, and planting water-wise landscapes,” he said in a press statement. “But I fear those efforts alone won’t be enough to protect us.”

He added: “We need more rain, and we need it now. We need some divine intervention.”

Read more: Get to know the Delaware senator who’s known Biden for 47 years and could be key to passing his infrastructure package

On Thursday, the National Weather Service in Utah advised of “excessive heat” across much of the state through Saturday evening.

Last month, Cox signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from watering during the warmest times of the day, roughly between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Glen Merrill, the hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, told The Washington Post that about 95% of Utah’s water supply originates from melting snowpack in higher elevations.

This year, the “reduced snow cover” generated less water, which was absorbed by the dry soil.

“It didn’t make it into the channels and streams,” he told The Post. “The forecast for [stream] volume through July is about 25 to 40 percent of normal.”

Merrill added that the drought came on in 2019 and accelerated last summer, advancing across the state.

“[The drought] even spread all the way into the beginning of our cool season [in 2020],” he told The Post. “It’s rare to see that.”

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California drought could have devastating consequences for the state’s agriculture, wildlife preservation, and tourism industries

California reservoir
A reservoir.

Hello! This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email read by 2.9 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

The latest shortage hitting the American West? Water. And while Chick-fil-A sauce and semiconductors are important for a functioning economy, this year’s historic drought in the West could affect-and we do mean this-literally everything.

The state of play: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put 41 counties under a state of emergency in an attempt to drastically limit water use. Some scientists say the region is facing the worst drought in centuries.

Who’s getting hit the hardest?

Anyone who eats food. The water levels of 1,500+ reservoirs in California are 50% lower than normal at this time of year, per Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis. This means huge cuts to the water that farmers in the state use to produce over 25% of the country’s food supply.

  • Your morning breakfast of Blue Diamond almond milk and habanero BBQ almonds could be impacted. California accounts for 80% of the US’ almond supply, but because of shrinking water allocations, some farmers are simply bulldozing those notoriously thirsty almond trees.

Anyone who uses electricity. Officials are predicting the water level of Lake Oroville, the Beyoncé of California lakes, to hit a record low in August. If that happens, they would need to shut down a major hydroelectric power plant, putting extra strain on the electrical grid during the hottest part of the summer.

Anyone who is a fish. In April, California officials announced they’d be driving 146 truckloads of 15+ million young salmon to the Pacific Ocean because the fish wouldn’t be able to swim in the dangerously shallow, warm waterways connecting the state’s Central Valley to the ocean.

Anyone who dislikes wildfires. Five of the six largest wildfires in modern California history happened during the 2020 wildfire season, killing 30+ people. Experts say the current conditions are much worse.

Bottom line: This drought could have devastating consequences for the state’s agriculture, wildlife preservation, and tourism industries. #BoatSummer in California is not looking good.

This story is from today’s edition of Morning Brew, a daily email. Sign up here to get it!

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Coffee is the latest commodity to hit multi-year highs as Brazil drought sends prices soaring

farmer, coffee farmer, coffee grower
  • Coffee prices hit a 4.5 year high on Friday extending their rise to nearly 70% in the past year.
  • Dr. Michaela Helbing-Kuhl, an agriculture analyst at Commerzbank, says Brazil’s persistently dry weather is to blame.
  • The drought is expected to continue through August which is “not a good sign for the 2022/23 crop,” according to Dr. Helbing-Kuhl.
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Prices of arabica coffee moved above $1.60 per pound last Friday for the first time since the fall of 2016.

Coffee prices have risen nearly 70% in the past year and currently trade around $1.66 per pound.

According to Dr. Michaela Helbing-Kuhl, an agricultural analyst at Commerzbank, global coffee production has been hurt by persistently dry weather in Brazil.

Brazil’s Paraná Basin, which is home to Minas Gerais, the country’s biggest coffee-producing state, has been hit with a drought that forecasters expect to continue through August, according to a recent commodities report from Commerzbank.

2021 was anticipated to be a strong year for Brazilian coffee producers, but many have experienced weak yields as a result of the drought.

Dr. Helbing-Kuhl said the dry weather is “not a good sign for the 2022/23 crop” either, which begins flowering in September. Protests in Columbia have also hampered the transport of Brazil’s already weak harvest.

Coffee is the latest commodity to hit multi-year highs as the global economy reopens.

From lumber to copper, commodity prices have been on the rise this past year amid record demand and supply chain disruptions brought about by the current bust to boom cycle.

Lumber futures rose as high as $1,670.50 per thousand board feet in early May, although they’ve now fallen back to $1,309. Even with the price drop, however, lumber futures are still up more than 260% in the past year.

Similarly, copper futures are up 88% since this time last year amid surging demand. Bank of America commodity strategist Michael Widmer said copper is “the new oil” in a recent note to clients and claimed it could hit $20,000 per ton due to surging demand.

Oil prices also neared 2-year highs on Monday as investors are expecting OPEC+ to confirm it will continue restricting supply at a key meeting.

Despite rising commodities prices in 2021, there are some signs of a let-up for businesses and consumers. New data from Bloomberg shows hedge funds have cut their bullish bets on commodities in recent weeks.

According to data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and ICE, hedge-fund holdings in 20 of the 23 commodities tracked in the Bloomberg Commodity Index fell by the most since November this week.

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