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Dry, Sunny Days in January Have Taken a Toll on California’s Snowpack

All of those dry January days have taken a toll on California’s snowpack, but officials say it’s too early to worry about drought conditions.

Surveyors with the California Department of Water Resources trekked through a snow-covered field Thursday at the department’s Phillips station, above Lake Tahoe, to take the second seasonal measurement that serves as an important marker for the state’s water supply.

Most Major California Dams Lack Emergency Plans. ‘High-Risk Issue,’ State Auditor Says

The vast majority of California’s major dams aren’t adequately prepared for an emergency.

Three years after the near-disaster at Oroville Dam, only 22 state-regulated dams have finalized emergency plans — out of 650 major dams that are required by law to have plans in place — according to a report issued Thursday by State Auditor Elaine Howle.

Across the U.S., States are Bracing for More Climate-Related Disasters

State lawmakers across the country are calling for huge investments to mitigate the effects of wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, droughts and other natural disasters made more devastating and frequent by climate change.

Following the hottest decade on record, which saw record-breaking wildfires in the West, extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, a years-long drought in California, and severe flooding in the Midwest, legislators in many states say it’s long past time to treat such events as the new normal — and invest accordingly.

As Forests Burn Around the World, Drinking Water is at Risk

Fabric curtains stretch across the huge Warragamba Dam to trap ash and sediment expected to wash off wildfire-scorched slopes and into the reservoir that holds 80% of untreated drinking water for the Greater Sydney area.

In Australia’s national capital of Canberra, where a state of emergency was declared on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire to its south, authorities are hoping a new water treatment plant and other measures will prevent a repeat of water quality problems and disruption that followed deadly wildfires 17 years ago.