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California’s Winter: Wet Times, Dry Times and Water Supplies

After a wet and snowy start, California’s winter has gone bust. The 2019-2020 water year started off with robust precipitation, after a series of storms in November and early December 2019.

But the new year has not been as bountiful. Dry conditions in January and February added little to the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

Drought In California Seems Inevitable. But Experts Say Don’t Panic

Some communities in California just experienced the driest February ever, and there’s around an 80 percent chance the state will enter a full-blown drought this year.

If that happens, it could be the third-driest year in over a century, according to modeling by the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

But even though around a quarter of California is undergoing moderate drought conditions experts say it’s too early to panic — they say a second year of drought is where things get dicey.

“The first year of a drought is really mostly a wake-up call,” said Jay Lund, the center’s director. “It will be prudent, if this turns out to be a dry year, for us to prepare for it to be a longer drought.”