Record West Coast drought shows no signs of easing

The flip side to the frigid weather in much of the U.S. is record warmth in the West. Parts of Alaska hit the mid-50s this week.

And it's dry -- 93 percent of California is in a severe drought that's going on four years.

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A fisherman fishes the drought-lowered waters of Lake Success on February 11, 2015 near East Porterville, California.
David McNew, Getty Images

A time-lapse video shows the mountaintops of Squaw Valley. There's so little snow next month's World Cup ski event had to be cancelled.

Nevada's Lake Mead Reservoir, which provides water for 20 million people, is less than half full.

And in Oregon, the snowpack on Mount Hood is so low, farmer Jon Laraway fears water rationing come spring.

"Growers may have to go on a schedule basis, where they can't irrigate as much," Laraway says. "We've never had to do that on this side of the valley."

Scientists blame what they call a "ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure off the coast of California. It has been blocking winter storms and keeping temperatures above normal.

"I think it's unprecedented, because we are seeing the warmest temperatures we've seen on record," says meteorologist Eric Boldt. "Often, the high pressure will start shift back to the west and we start to see colder storm moving through our region, but that just hasn't happened the last two years."

Northern California did get several inches of rain earlier this month. But mountain snow is what matters most.

The spring snow melt provides a third of California's water, helping fill the state's nearly empty reservoirs. The latest snow survey found the Sierra Nevada snowpack at just 12 percent of normal.

Government scientists now predict a fourth-straight year of drought in the West. It's even dry in Hawaii -- nearly half the state is in a drought.