New images taken by NASA satellites highlight the devastating effects of the persistent drought plaguing California, as the state faces dry conditions not seen since the late 1970s.

Several images, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on the space agency’s Terra satellite, show the progression of melting snow in the Sierra Nevada, a key source of water. After a below-average snowfall season, the snow melted away completely nearly a month ahead of schedule.

The unusual melt has left reservoirs without their usual inflow of freshwater needed to sustain the state during the dry months of summer and autumn.

Satellite images compare the Sierra Nevada mountain range on March 31, 2021, May 18, 2021 and July 7, 2021. / Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

In any given year, Sierra Nevada

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