Expanded Tool Visualizes Historical Drought Conditions by County, State

The “Dust Bowl” drought of the 1930s brought nearly a decade of dry conditions to the Great Plains, causing many farmers to flee their lands and livelihoods. Looking further back, tree-ring and lake-sediment records indicate that “megadroughts” have occurred in North America over the last thousand years. By looking back at historical data, communities can get a better understanding of how current droughts compare to past events and drought and extreme weather threats to be prepared for.

California Prepares for El Niño Winter After a Year of Extreme Heat and Floods

After a year of unprecedented heat and flooding, experts are cautiously hopeful for California’s new water year with the threat of the historically unruly El Niño looming.

With the start of the new water year this week, state officials say there is plenty to celebrate. State climatologist Michael Anderson said in a Tuesday briefing that between October 2022 to March of this year, the state got 153% of normal rainfall, making it the sixth wettest water year on record.

A Very Wet Year for San Diego

San Diego’s water year ends Saturday — and it will be recorded as the 14th wettest year on record for the city.

A recorded 15.72 inches of rain fell at the San Diego Airport over the past 12 months. The weather station there typically sees about 9.5 inches a year.

It was the wettest year ever on Palomar Mountain. Rainfall there totaled 69.24 inches.

Sacramento Approaches a Record for Days Without Rain During the Winter. Could More Water Restrictions Be Coming Soon?

If this were the summer, it would hardly be worth mentioning. But the winter months are when the region expects to pick up a majority of its annual rainfall.

The good news is that despite this near-record long winter rainless streak, the season’s total rainfall (since Oct. 1) is still above average for Sacramento.

Without a significant change in the weather pattern, that would of course change. Currently, the city of Sacramento is asking residents to cut back water use by 15% of 2020 levels.

Climate Change Makes Projecting Lake Mead and Colorado River Levels Tricky

There’s a white line known as the bathtub ring around Lake Mead. It’s a constant reminder for Boating Lake Mead’s Director of Operations, Bruce Nelson. The lake is at a historically low 1,067-feet above sea level, affecting boat launch ramps and customers.

The West Needs a Lot of Snow to Escape Drought. This Year, That’s Unlikely

When you’ve been coming to the same place for decades, it’s easy to notice changes. On this ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the tell-tale signs of drought are everywhere. Todd Hagenbuch stands beside a silent, dusty creek bed, where golden grasses and scrub are beginning to reclaim the thin channel.

S.F. Saw Just 9 Inches of Rain This ‘Water Year.’ Here’s How That Compares to Normal

The water year has officially come to an end — and once again, the Bay Area has come up dry.

How dry? The region received a little more than a third of normal precipitation from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, according to data from the National Weather Service — a common occurrence for the past several years, which bodes ill for a region already at the worst “exceptional” level on the U.S. Drought Monitor map.

Two Ways to Measure Annual Rainfall

Last Tuesday marked the end of the 2019 rain year, which runs from July 1 through June 30. Wednesday was the start of the 2020 rain year.

The 2018 rainfall season that occurred from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, produced 15.68 inches of rain at the Santa Maria Public Airport, or about 121% of normal.