01-19-23 | News

Extreme Drought Eliminated in California After Torrential Rains

Atmospheric Rivers and Snowpack Lessened Drought Conditions
by Staff

After most of the state was in the Extreme Drought category prior to atmospheric rivers in recent weeks, many are wondering what the state is doing to retain the water and if it could stave off drought conditions this summer.

The second-highest level of drought, "Extreme Drought" status has been eliminated in California after weeks of atmospheric rivers that carry moisture thousands of miles, with more winter storms to come.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the state now primarily sits in the Abnormally Dry, Moderate Drought, and Severe Drought ranges.


The state has seen record rainfall including, on January 9th in Bishop, California, the Drought Monitor reported 3.02 inches of rain, making it the fourth wettest day in 71 years.

California is currently at 226% of its normal snowpack for this time of year and surpassed the amount typically on April 1st. Meanwhile, the drought monitor also shows that soil moisture is measuring at 100% which is preventing trees across the state and region from dying off since trees need water to infiltrate the soil.

Unfortunately, experts say that in order for drought conditions to end, the state would need 120% to 200% above average of rain by the end of the season. The rain provided a generous boost to local reservoirs, but they are still below the long-term average for this time of year. Shasta Lake is currently at 41% capacity rather than the yearly average of 67%. Meanwhile, Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake are at 46% and 42% capacity, compared to 85% and 100% for this time of year data from the California Department of Water Resources.

The state stores water from the snowpack, reservoirs, and groundwater aquifers, but has been known for years for letting rainwater run down the drain to the Pacific Ocean. According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, in an interview with Climatologist Bill Patzert, "there are some catchment basins, but it's been so dramatically dry for the past two decades that it's not filling them up. Roots and soil are sucking up the water and preventing it from getting to the groundwater basins."


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