Nightly News   |  January 16, 2014

West’s Driest Drought on Record

A high-pressure ridge is preventing moisture from reaching much of the Southwest, especially California.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this is mike taibbi in los angeles , this is the driest and deepest area in los angeles , getting dry fast. in the past week, one estimate for extreme drought in california more than doubled from 27 to nearly 63% in the entire state. the reason? a high pressure ridge underneath the jet stream that seems unmovable.

>> the jet stream is so far to the north taking that up, we are not getting the snow we so desperately need in california .

>> reporter: among the consequences, reservoirs that feed many people and much of the farmlands, at low record levels, this farmer could lose his california farm, he says.

>> we're looking at it, coming slowly but definitely will hit here.

>> reporter: scientists measuring the crucial snowpack are very worried as they walk over bare ground that is usually blanketed right now.

>> unfortunately, the snowpack is only 50% of what it should be this time of year.

>> reporter: less snow melt means some species of salmon can't get to their spawning grounds and has this bear crossing snead of hibernating. the record temperatures covering 11 states and the agriculture-based economy.

>> you see a very serious human impact in a major swath of california when you have a drought like this.

>> reporter: it is so bad that last week catholic bishops asked the church members to pray for rain , the prayers so far unanswered. at ground level you can see the fire from scores of miles away from downtown los angeles and all the way from the pacific. now, the scary fact, january is usually the wettest month of the year in southern california . now, under this, the conditions right now, here and elsewhere in the drought zone it is the driest