June 21, 2008

Central Valley feels the heat from a dry spring

Friday ended the driest spring recorded in Modesto, with only 0.17 inches of rain since late March. "It's a pretty remarkable dry period for spring," said Eric Kurth, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. "There's really not much opportunity to make up for it (this summer), unless something really extraordinary happens."

The second-driest spring came in 1962, with 0.22 inches, according to Modesto Irrigation District records. The MID has measured rainfall since 1888.

The dry spell comes as part of a drought declared statewide by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Last week, he proclaimed a water emergency in nine Central Valley counties, including Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin.

Kurth said getting people to conserve water is a tough sell when temperatures soar into the triple-digits.

"We're telling people to cool off and use swimming pools and to drink a lot of water, so certainly they shouldn't scale back ... because heat can be quite a hazard," he added.

Kurth said the easiest way to cut back is to recycle household water for use on outdoor plants and water lawns less often. Drip irrigation systems and others that can be tailored to specific plant and garden needs also can dramatically reduce the amount of water necessary to keep a yard green.

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