West’s Drought Recovery Still Years Away Despite Recent Monsoons

Heavy monsoon rains have helped to relieve the Southwest’s historic drought, but water officials say the deluge isn’t enough to reverse a drying trend that has depleted the region’s primary water sources.

Much of the West remains entrenched in a 23-year “historically unprecedented” drought driven by climate change, said Jonathan Deason, an environmental engineering professor at George Washington University.

“It’s going to take about three years of above-average rainfall to have substantial recovery,” he said.

California’s Driest Start to the Year Sparks Water, Wildfire Concerns

California is entering the dry season with its water resources in a precarious position, having seen its driest start to the year on record. A heat wave last week sent temperatures soaring into the 90s and even triple-digits in some locations, as the paltry Sierra Nevada snowpack shrunk even further.

Why it matters: Water and wildfire woes lie ahead for the nation’s most populous state, as spring runoff into reservoirs slows to a trickle, and forests dry out unusually early in the year.

Snow Shuts Off in West as Drought Recovery Hopes Dim

Winter whiplash has hit California and the West. Doused in epic snow and rain in December, the region has just experienced one of the driest Januaries on record in many locations, and there are no storms in sight for at least the first half of February.

The weeks-long dry spell, in the midst of what should be the wettest two months of the year, is dashing hopes of meaningful drought recovery this winter. Water-year surpluses are sliding into deficits, and fire danger is on the rise in California. The reversal may soon emerge in drought maps.

Slow It, Spread It, Sink It: Harvesting Rainwater in Your Garden Helps With Drought Recovery

The rainy season can be a mixed blessing.

If your home garden landscape is well designed to maximize rainwater storage, then rain is a blessing. If your landscape is poorly designed, or has too much impervious surfaces, then rain can be a curse.

Whatever your situation, however, take heart! Small adjustments can be made to prepare for the next storm, though some projects will take longer and require work done in the dry season.