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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

California Drought May Go Away Because the Rain Won't

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 6:10 PM

click to enlarge Folsom Dam is suffering from the blues. - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
  • National Weather Service
  • Folsom Dam is suffering from the blues.
​If you are a rain lover, it's been a rough last three years. Hell, for many people it feels like we've had a drought since this year's high school graduates were born.

With the rain pounding San Francisco and much of California over the last few days, the state may not be nearly as drought-stricken if this keeps up.

For the first time in more than a dog's age, some forecasters are starting to seriously think about calling an end to the drought. State water officials have yet to concur, but several factors are in place that could mean a change.

First, according to a state report on the water levels at reservoirs all over California, almost half of the reservoirs are carrying a normal amount of water at this time. These are mainly the reservoirs hugging the Sierra.

Second, the state Department of Water Resources reported the Sierra snowpack was holding about 115 percent of its usual water content for this time of year. That marked a big improvement over last year, when the snowpack was just 61 percent of normal during the same period.

Third, this isn't just a NorCal thing. The Los Angeles Basin has seen more than 13 inches of rain so far this year. That's more than the 10-inch average, and much more than the 8.75-inches seen last year.

A caveat. It should be mentioned that as of the end of January, the state's key reservoirs -- which store the spring snowmelt before it's delivered -- are still hurting. Lake Oroville was about half as full as it should have been for that time of year. Folsom Lake was at 61 percent and Shasta was at 82 percent.

You might think that the bouts of rain we have seen all over the state since that time would be enough to bring those key reservoirs back up to normal levels. However, the National Weather Service and the State Water resources Department aren't saying anything ... yet.

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John Boitnott


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