From New York to California, extreme weather hits hard

  •  A wild horse carcass in Lovelock, Nev., Jan. 29, 2014. A punishing drought is sweeping much of the West, confronting authorities with the worst water shortage the region has faced in more than a century.
  • Low water level reveals two chairs at the Almaden Reservoir on Jan. 22, 2014. in San Jose, California.
  • A tumbleweed lies in the sands of the Kern River which has been dried up by water diversion projects and little rain on Feb. 4, 2014 in Bakersfield, Cali.
  • California rancher Nathan Carver (not seen) drives his truck delivering hay which he now has to buy to feed his herd of beef cattle, seen following across the brown-dirt fields of Carver’s ranch, which has been family owned for five generations, on the outskirts of Delano, in California’s Central Valley, on Feb. 3, 2014.
  • Folsom Lake reservoir in Northern California has dropped to 18% capacity as an unseasonably dry winter in California stokes fears of a severe drought.
  • A worker installs an artificial lawn in front of an apartment building on Jan. 30, 2014 in San Jose, California.  Artificial lawns have emerged as a water saving alternative for Californians who have been asked to voluntarily reduce water by twenty percent as California is experiencing its driest year on record.
  • John Burchard, General Manager of the Alpaugh Community Services District, walks a ditch bank on the outskirts of town on Nov. 15, 2013.  The small farmworker community in California’s Central Valley suffers from high levels of arsenic and other contaminates in its drinking water.
  • A drying irrigation ditch on the edge of the historic Tulare Lake Basin in California’s Central Valley.
  • Commuters wait on a snow-covered platform for an  L train in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicaco, Feb. 5, 2014.
  • A snow plow clears a street during a snow storm in Burlington, Vermont, Feb. 5, 2014.
  • A dog navigates a slushy intersection near Union Square in New York, Feb. 5, 2014.
  • A man uses cardboard to cover himself while walking down a snowy street during a snow storm on Feb. 5, 2014 in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York, United States.
  • Commuters walk through the MTA Subway at the 42nd St/Times Square station after there were delays with some of the trains due to inclement weather on Feb. 5, 2014 in New York City.
  • Traffic makes its way with limited visibility on I-635 during a blizzard that covered the metro area in Kansas City, Kansas, Feb. 4, 2014.
  • A commuter walks against blowing snow Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Chicago.
  • Traffic is sparse and the sidewalks impassable as a heavy snow falls in Pembroke, Mass., Wednesday morning, Feb. 5, 2014.
  • A downed tree covered in ice lays atop a minivan after a winter storm Feb. 5, 2014, in Philadelphia. Icy conditions have knocked out power to more than 200,000 electric customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and prompted school and legislative delays as well as speed reductions on major roadways.



Make it stop! The second winter storm in a week slammed the northeast and Midwest early Wednesday with a dangerous cocktail of snow, ice, and freezing rain.

New York, New Jersey, and Kansas all declared states of emergency in response to snowfall of up to a foot. Mississippi, facing severe freezing rain and inches of ice, also declared a state of emergency. Winter storm warnings and travel advisories were issued in many states.

Governors across the region plead with citizens to stay home and stay off the roads as Nika’s wintry mix created dangerous conditions. New York closed off all of Interstate 84 and commuter trains and Amtrak saw delays. Airports remained open, but thousands of flights were cancelled. Schools across the country were closed, too.

“Mother Nature always wins in the end but we have done everything we can do,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the clean-up efforts.

Cuomo alluded to climate change in his address.

“The situation is challenging. The amount of snowfall makes plowing more difficult and it’s taxing on the equipment. That is the new normal,” he said. “Hurricane Sandy, Storm Irene, they were talking about thunder snow, the polar vortex….this is a pattern of extreme weather that gives challenges we’ve never dealt with before.”

But Nika highlighted taxed states’ infrastructure, thanks to this winter’s severe weather: several areas, including New York City and parts of New Jersey, reported salt shortages that impeded clean-up efforts. Hundreds of thousands were out of power Wednesday morning, particularly in Pennsylvania, where more than 700,000 were affected.

The storm is expected to taper off Wednesday night, but another large storm is expected early next week. It seems that Punxsutawney Phil and New York’s own Staten Island Chuck were right—six more weeks of winter.

On the opposite coast, however, California has been ravaged by a punishing drought for more than a year that could become the worst in the state’s history, rocking farmers and ranchers who are struggling to keep crops and livestock alive. For the first time, the state will shut down the State Water Project, which supplements millions water supplies and will reduce allocations for farmlands by half—the maximum reduction allowed by law—according to the Guardian. There is little forecast of natural relief for the state; the federal government is currently reviewing an $644 million emergency aid bill to help mitigate the effects.

Related links: Take our poll and tell us, “How tired are you of the winter storms?”  You can learn more about the Central Valley Drought at Circle of Blue.

Speak Out