For the last few years the word “drought” has become part of every day life in Southern California. Mandatory water conservation was enacted, and then there was the “el nino” which promised relief but never really materialized. Through all this the region has experienced same much needed rainfall. Although nowhere near as much rainfall as was predicted due to “el nino” it has still been more than the past few years. So where is Southern California now as far as the drought is concerned?
State officials say it’s far too early to declare the drought over — especially given that the rains seem to have focused on Northern California, while Southern California has seen comparatively little rain. But reservoir levels are rising, along with the snow pack. Both are key sources of water for the state.
The issue for California comes down to this: there are short-term drought impacts and long-term ones. With the former, the signs are encouraging: Soil moisture is increasing and some areas are greening up thanks to repeated rains. Temperatures have also been cold enough that snow is building up in the mountains. The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada, a major water resource come spring and summer, is up to an average of 113 percent of normal for this time of year, according to California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR). Compare that to the record low 6 percent of normal at the end of winter last year.
Drought conditions in California have been building up since 2012. Over that time, the state has missed out on nearly a year’s worth of rain, according to a study published in July. That means they need the equivalent of two full years’ worth of rain to catch up. Even if this year sees above-average precipitation to the state, it won’t be on that level.
So it looks like the rain that has been falling in the area is having an impact on the drought, most researchers don’t think it’s enough to break the drought. Another year or two of the kind of rainfall the region has been seeing this year is needed.