Many of us who came back to Ithaca for the new semester were shocked to be greeted with an abundance of drought warnings. It seemed as though wherever we went, there were posters, articles and notices warning us of the drought and how we all desperately needed to conserve water if we were to have enough for everyone on campus. Despite the rain that came in late August, the drought worsened, and we dove right into a level 3 drought–a drought that demands extreme water conservation and awareness.
Judging by the loud claps of thunder and flashes of lightning plus all that white snow on the ground these past few weeks, Ithaca’s weather has been more than harsh this month. While most Cornellians–and Ithacans for that matter–are cognizant of the wrath of Ithaca’s crazy seasons, this year is especially concerning what with the whole drought situation. Despite what we may think of as an insane amount of snow and rainfall, Ithaca is still too dry to function. Yes, Cornell, you heard that right. It’s going to have to rain a whole lot more if we’re going to get out of this environmental mess.
There are several claims floating out there that the harsh torrential downpours need to continue consecutively over the course of many days to fully relieve Ithaca of the drought. In fact, it’s not only rain that we need–it’s also snow. Many sources believe that a large snowfall is what Ithaca really needs. The reasoning is that in the spring, all the snow will melt into the gorges and the land and provide Ithaca with some much needed water. That means that the earliest we’ll be out of this drought is spring–which is six months away.
According to Cornell officials, the drought begun last year with the blissfully low snowfall. Remember when winter didn’t exist last year? It may have been balmy, but Ithaca basically traded in nice weather for a terrible drought (oh, Mother Nature). Because there was little snow last year, there was very little water being absorbed into the ground via ice melt. This is bad news for many farmers who need the snow water to feed their crops. It’s also bad for our gorges, who just last year, experienced extremely dry conditions; instead of flowing with water, they remained quiet and still.
In the meantime while we wait for Mother Nature to get it together, Ithaca really needs its people, like us, to help conserve water. While many conservation efforts have been lead by Cornell officials, it has only helped to a small extent. The vibe on campus is largely ignorant of the drought. As students and citizens of Ithaca, however, it is our duty to try and conserve as much water as we can so that we can mitigate the effects of the drought. Yes, this means shorter showers and having to think about one more thing, but that stress is minimal compared to the environmental effects of the drought.
Thanks to conservation efforts, and, of course, a little rain, Ithaca has now been demoted to a level 2 drought. An improvement, perhaps, but it is still only slightly better than this summer’s level 3 scare. Many believe that Ithaca will not progress back to level 2, but that doesn’t mean we can start letting our faucets run wild. We’re still in a drought, and until the drought is over, we are going to have to deal with its consequences.
So next time you look at the weather app on your phone or computer, rejoice in the chance of snow, cheer for the likelihood of rain. For once we can all agree, we really hope Mother Nature’s wrath spreads all of its might on Ithaca this year.