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Before and after: What losing 63 trillion gallons of water looks like

A new study says that California's drought is so severe it's causing the ground to rise. Angela Fritz of the Washington Post reported scientists estimate 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost in the past 18 months.

What happens when 63 trillion gallons of water disappear? "As it turns out, 63 trillion gallons of water is pretty heavy," Fritz wrote. "That incredible water deficit weighs nearly 240 billion tons, and as it evaporated, the ground began to shift" — in California's mountains, by as much as half-an-inch.

For the past two weeks, California's drought picture has remained the same, halting a steady march toward worse. But the breather has allowed the state to recover only ever so slightly.

In May, 100 percent of California was experiencing "severe" drought — the third harshest on a five-level scale — but since things have leveled off, that figure has only improved to 99.8 percent, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Meanwhile, nearly 82 percent of California continues to suffer "extreme" drought, and within that area, more than half the state is under the driest "exceptional" drought category.

What about California's water supply? The Los Angeles Times reported California's three largest reservoirs are at roughly 30 percent capacity. As of last week Lake Oroville, one of California's largest reservoirs, was at only 32 percent of its capacity. That's pretty close to a record low. Folsom Lake, south of Lake Oroville, is currently at 40 percent of its total capacity.

The pairs of photographs above show the stark difference at Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake between 2011 and 2014.

Before and after: What losing 63 trillion gallons of water looks like 08/29/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 1:23pm]
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