A cabin in the Sierra Nevada near Phillips Station, California where the first snowfall of the season was on December 30, 2021
January 3, 2022 – Most Californians have experienced a very wet holiday season. The December storms brought heavy rains and record snowfall, sending water to our parched state reservoirs and adding to our Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is well above average for this time of the season.
Winter storms give our drought-stricken state a beacon of hope, but other storms containing one or two similar rain and snowstorms will be needed during the winter season before we can be in a place where the conditions. drought are no longer of concern.
California has the most variable weather conditions in the country, and in the 21st Century we have seen climate change make the extremes of our state even more extreme. California continues to see evidence of this with larger oscillations between wet and dry years and even extreme variability within a season. A wet start to the year doesn’t mean this year will end above average once all is said and done.
The 2020-2021 hydrologic years combined ranked as the two driest years in the California statewide precipitation record, exceeding 1976-77. In fact, more than half of California’s water years since 2000 have been dry or drought years, contributing less water to the system and creating an increased risk of impacts such as fire seasons. devastating forest.
The variability in our state’s weather conditions could also mean that the wet start of this hydrologic year could take a turn towards the “dry street,” as forecasts show the potential for dry weather in the new year. In December 2012, for example, California experienced above average precipitation and snowfall. The remainder of the water year ended dry, resulting in the first year of a declared drought that lasted until 2017.
While we have started the Water Year 2022 well, it is just a few early storms and we still have the reminder of our wettest months ahead of us. It is crucial that we have rain and snow during these months to really mitigate the effects of drought.
So you might be wondering how much water do we need this year before the drought conditions ease? The answer depends on many factors, including where you live, how much water evaporates during spring runoff, the snow water equivalent of the Sierra snowpack, groundwater, etc. It is still too early in the season to know for sure how all of this will play out.
Record-breaking snowfall in the Sierra and rains across California are certainly encouraging, but our state’s water future remains uncertain due to variability in precipitation and climate change. We encourage Californians to work together to use water wisely and save for our future.
DWR will continue to coordinate with other partner agencies who are committed to providing continued support to communities in California and responding to this record drought.
For the most recent information on current California conditions, please visit https://water.ca.gov/Current-Conditions.
Source: CA. DWR