Storms bolster California snowpack, ease drought

by Jacob Fuller

Record rain and snowfall in recent weeks has eased half of California out of persistent drought and bolstered the store of mountain snow that the state relies on to provide water during the warm, dry spring and summer.

State officials on Friday were set to release the latest measurements of the volume and depth of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which last month already was at twice the typical depth for this time of year.

The snowpack is considered California’s largest reservoir and is vital to fill streams and lakes as it slowly melts.

The record precipitation and accompanying powerful storms in December and February have also dramatically lessened California’s ongoing drought, a team of U.S. government agencies said this week.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and cooperating agencies showed that 17% of California was not experiencing any sort of abnormal dryness, while another third was dry but no longer officially in a state of drought.

By contrast, just three months ago the entire state was considered to be experiencing drought conditions. California has cycled through four periods of drought since 2000, making less water available to irrigate crops and sustain wildlife along with meeting the needs of the state’s 40 million residents.

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters