California drought will be eased by rain and snow, but it could take time

California has been hit with torrential rains and colossal snowfall since late last year, helping lift nearly two-thirds of the state out of drought conditions.

In fact, according to the US Drought Monitor, as of March 16, only 36% of the state of California was in drought, compared to 100% as of January 1.

And looking ahead, “it looks like most surface water drought — drought involving streams and reservoirs — could be eliminated by summer in California,” said Dan McEvoy, a researcher on the drought and water at the Western Regional Climate Center of the Desert Research Institute.

Rain and snow will help replenish the drought-depleted water system

Eleven atmospheric river storms, which began in late December, hit California with record amounts of rain and snow.

For example, as of March 13, season-to-date snowfall at the Central Sierra Snow Lab in Donner Pass, Calif., exceeded 650 inches, compared to a normal total of about 360 inches for the full season, the report said. Draft Monitor.

Drought conditions ease after winter storms

Winter rainfall wiped out an exceptionally extreme drought in California for the first time since 2020.

“Obviously the amount of water that has fallen this year has significantly alleviated the drought,” said Daniel Swain, a climatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It hasn’t completely ended the drought, but we are in a very different place than we were a year ago.”

Where Does California Water Come From?

California’s water comes from a mix of sources, including snow accumulation, reservoirs, and groundwater.

Although winter storms have helped the state’s snowpack and reservoirs, groundwater basins are much slower to recover, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Many rural areas are still experiencing water supply problems, especially communities that rely on groundwater reserves that have been depleted due to prolonged drought.

It will take more than a single wet year for groundwater levels to significantly improve statewide, the department said in a news release.

According to a recent study, after a drought, precipitation must have time to drain through the ground and restore the depleted aquifer before groundwater levels can return to normal. Researchers have determined that it can take up to three years on average.

Contribute: The Associated Press


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