Pat Shingleton’s Weather News for Feb. 8, 2014

California averages around 22 inches of rain per year, while Baton Rouge traditionally picks up more than 50.

In 2013, just 7.13 inches fell, making it the driest since 1850. Time magazine reports that the megadrought is so severe that 17 communities across the state could run out of water in two to four months.

The cause is a four-mile-high, 2,000-mile wide area of high pressure that has stalled off the West Coast for 13 months. This high blocks Pacific storms and their delivery of needed rain.

With 15 percent of the U.S.’s entire agricultural product, farmers and ranchers are fallowing their pastures and thinning herds. Napa Valley vineyard owners are pruning earlier; relying on underground aquifers for irrigation.

Consumer costs aren’t affected - yet ...