(NaturalNews) Wide swaths of the United States remain mired in one of the worst droughts in recent times, prompting some to describe conditions as near "apocalyptic."
California, which is essentially the nation's fruit basket, has been particularly hard hit. As noted by The Economic Collapse Blog, some scientists and climatologists are beginning to use phrases like "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe the current situation in the western half of the nation.
"Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end," reported the blog, "we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age."
How bad? California is preparing to ban people from watering lawns and washing cars -- but if the drought persists, trust that such measures will pale in comparison to the tight restrictions that are on the way.
Here are some additional reports that describe just how bad things have gotten:
-- The Los Angeles Times has reported that 80 percent of California is now in "extreme" drought:
The NWS' Drought Monitor Update for July 15 shows 81% of California in the category of extreme drought or worse, up from 78%. Three months ago, it was 68%.
The map shows that drought conditions worsened in parts of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
The new data comes as officials are getting tough on water wasters.
Las Vegas may have to shut down
-- The State Water Resources Control Board has voted to give local authorities the power to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day. The board also says that nearly 50 communities around the state are on the verge of running out of water.
-- Many Southern California cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Long Beach, already have mandatory restrictions in place.
-- Worse, water usage is increasing; the latest figures showed that water usage statewide was up 1 percent in May over the same period a year ago (a trend driven primarily by an 8 percent increase in Southern California).
-- The Times also reports that downtown Los Angeles is the driest it has been since records began to be kept in 1877.
-- In something right out of communist East Germany, a social media phenomenon known as "drought shaming" has sprung up -- neighbors who take pictures of other neighbors using water and then posting them on Facebook, or other social media.
-- Climatologist Tim Barnett has said the water situation in Las Vegas "is as bad as you can imagine." He said he believes that, if the city can't "find a way to get more water from somewhere," it will soon be "out of business."
-- The water in Lake Mead, which was created by the Hoover Dam and supplies Vegas, is at its lowest level since 1937. Worse, it is continuing to drop at a frightening pace. See incredible pictures of the 14-year drought here: DailyMail.co.uk.
Crops can't be grown; tens of millions affected by lack of water
-- "The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It's not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people," said Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity.
-- Some areas of Nevada have officials actually paying people to remove their lawns, citing lack of water.
-- According to Accuweather, "more than a decade of drought" along the Colorado River has set up an "impending Southwest water shortage" which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.
-- Farmers in California are not planting nearly a half-million acres this year because of water shortages.