Recent Atmospheric Rivers Significantly Improve California’s Drought Status

SnowBrains |
California drought map January 3rd, 2023.

The eleven atmospheric rivers that dumped over fifty feet of snow and record rainfall on California have significantly impacted the state’s drought status. The map above shows the drought status at the turn of the year, and the one below shows the latest data from the US Drought Monitor.

California drought map March 16th, 2023.

California’s drought coverage has dropped to 36%, its lowest level since April 2020, reports SF GateAlthough the drought is not officially over, the recent weather pattern has made an enormous difference.

“Conditions have changed dramatically in many parts of the state since late December. While winter storms have helped the snowpack and reservoirs, groundwater basins are much slower to recover. Many rural areas are still experiencing water supply challenges, especially communities that rely on groundwater supplies that have been depleted due to prolonged drought.”

– California Department of Water Resources

As of Tuesday, 44.7% of the state had its drought status removed, and less than 9% had a severe drought. 17.3 million people are still affected by drought, according to the Drought Monitor. From April 2021 to December 2022, the entire state was in drought.

In October 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency, urging Californians to step up their water conservation efforts as the western US faces a potential third dry year. California just had its second driest year on record, with near-record low storage in California’s largest reservoirs. What a difference fifty feet of snow makes.

That’s a lot of precipitation. Credit: CWW

California was experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by a lack of precipitation and high temperatures. August 2021 was the driest and hottest August on record since reporting began, and the water year that ended September 2021 was the second driest on record. The California Department of Water Resources said that the 2021 water year, which ended September 30th, 2021, had the least rainfall since 1924 and would need 140% of its average annual precipitation to end the drought.

The current state of California’s reservoirs. Credit: DWR

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