These Maps Show Just How Fast California Has Slipped Into a Devastating Drought

There’s been no shortage of news coverage about California’s catastrophic drought. Sure, we all know the farmers who supply a quarter of the United States’ food are suffering. But the message so far hasn’t quite gotten through to the coastal masses, who have not exactly given up their water-wasting ways. Here in Southern California, water use has actually risen. (Case in point: On Venice Beach this morning, sprinklers were shooting water full blast to keep a strip of oceanside grass green.)

But sometimes a picture—or a map—is worth a 500-word post. These maps from the United States Drought Monitor show how the Golden State has dried out with lightning speed. The bright red on the maps represents areas afflicted by extreme drought. When 2014 dawned, about 28 percent of the state was red. Now, seven months later, nearly 82 percent of California is suffering from extreme drought. (All of California is now classified as being in severe drought.)

Speaking of lightning, this map from the National Weather Service pinpoints the location of more than 6,400 lightning strikes that hit the tinder-dry state on Sunday. Not a good combo.

The good news is that it’s not too late for Californians to start conserving water. They’ll have to—beginning Aug. 1, mandatory water rationing will restrict car washing and lawn watering. Violators can be fined $500 a day.

In other words, brown is the new green. 

Related stories on TakePart:

Attention, Californians: Your Water-Wasting Days Are Over

How California Can Beat the Drought

California's Drought Will Cost $2.2 Billion and 17,000 Jobs This Year, but 2015 Could Be Worse

Original article from TakePart