Although the West is still enjoying the effects of an exceptionally wet winter, climate experts say that extreme heat waves will continue chipping away at the benefits. Just 9.5% of California and Nevada remained in drought on July 20, compared to 99% at the beginning of the water year in October 2022. Drought conditions persist in areas that did not receive this past winter’s deluge, including parts of southeastern California and southern Nevada.
First came a dozen soaking atmospheric river storms. Then a huge Sierra Nevada snowpack, which on Monday was 248% of normal. Now comes drought relief.
Water agencies across the Bay Area are moving to roll back mandatory drought rules and surcharges as reservoirs have filled this winter and drought conditions have washed away.
With record and near-record snowpack up and down California, much of its multiyear drought has abated — but it’s never time to break out the balloons and party favors when it comes to water in the West.
During a California-Nevada U.S. Drought Monitoring Group seminar Monday, water experts were upbeat when talking about the massive snowpack, reservoirs spilling and more storms on the horizon.
Gov. Gavin Newsom came close but couldn’t quite bring himself to say it: The drought’s over.
It’s disappointing when a governor won’t acknowledge what ordinary citizens already know because they can see things for themselves.
Another drought will emerge soon enough. It always does. That’s the California pattern — climate change or not.
There’s a water contradiction in the West with serious long-term water scarcity in low reservoirs and depleting groundwater tables, while California is in the middle of an extremely wet and snowy winter. As water levels in dangerously depleted Lake Mead and Lake Powell drop to record lows, California has experienced one of the wettest winters on record, with a statewide snowpack that’s almost 200 percent of normal for this time of year and a flooding risks from rain and snow events in March.
With recent storm systems that swept through the west, California has seen more precipitation this year than normal, bringing the water supply stored in reservoirs — both locally and across the state — up from historic lows to levels that are some of the highest in years.
And with drought conditions having improved in much of California, experts say that the amount of water captured from this year’s particularly wet winter could help ease the impact of hotter, drier weather in San Diego, as the state recovers its depleted water supplies.
An atmospheric river is set to descend on California in coming days, following a spate of wet weather across the state.
An atmospheric river is a corridor of concentrated, tropical moisture traveling through the atmosphere. The river has raised an alert for significant flooding throughout California, and experts have warned of severe disruption.
The Santa Fe Irrigation District continues its outreach on its proposed water rate increases, making a stop at the March 2 Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting.
“It’s a nice sales presentation but I don’t buy a bit of it,” commented Director Greg Gruzdowich.
The heavy winter rains have lowered San Diego County’s drought ranking to the lowest level in nearly two years, and more precipitation might be coming in mid-March.
The U.S. Drought Monitor now lists the region as being “abnormally dry.” The county had been in a “moderate drought” since May 2021. Prior to that, greater San Diego experienced about 18 months of no drought conditions.
Roughly 36.3 million dead trees were counted across California in 2022, a dramatic increase from previous years that experts are blaming on drought, insects and disease, according to a report by the U.S. Forest Service.
The same survey for 2021 counted 9.5 million dead trees in the state, but the effects of last year’s dramatic die-off are more severe and spread across a wider range, according to the report released Tuesday.