California storms give state much-needed boost in water supply | Drought News
A series of atmospheric rivers cover the arid state with an estimated 121 trillion liters (32 trillion gallons) of water.
A series of storms known as “atmospheric rivers” hit California and caused flood and devastation across the west coast of the United States has helped increase the state’s water supply over the years wither drought.
As of Thursday, the US Drought Watchdog showed the state no longer had any areas with “extreme” or “extreme” drought. Three months ago, about 43 percent of the state fell into those categories.
“We are pleased that we can increase allocations now and provide more water to local water authorities,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the state’s Water Resources Department.
“These storms have made clear the importance of our efforts in modernizing our existing water infrastructure in times of increased drought and flooding.”
One positive result from the rain earlier this month: the most recent drought showed a steady improvement (left) compared to three months ago (right).#CAwx #Ddrought pic.twitter.com/YBgArRCvSn
— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) January 26, 2023
California’s historically uncomfortable relationship with water access is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, as climate change makes higher temperature and prolonged drought in the region is a nagging reality.
According to the drought watchdog, more than 99 percent of the state remains in conditions ranging from “unusually dry” to “moderate” or “severe” drought.
Weeks of rain has flooded California with an estimated 121 trillion liters (32 trillion gallons), bringing the state’s two largest reservoirs to a combined increase of 66%.
In December, before the storms, the state announced that local water agencies would only get 5% of what they request from the reservoirs, because dry conditions bring the water level to dangerously low levels.
But after nine”atmospheric river“Sweeping across the state in less than a month, public agencies estimate 27 million people will receive more water than expected to receive a month ago.
Those numbers don’t take into account more water that could come from melting snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Earlier this week, snow in California’s mountains was more than double the historical average.
In the state’s Central Valley, home to many of California’s most productive companies Agricultural areaThe storms have brought welcome relief.
For example, the San Joaquin Valley has fallen from “severe drought” to “moderate drought,” and the Central Coast region has gone from “moderate drought” to “extraordinarily dry.”
But officials and experts have warned that much-needed relief brought by the storms will not be enough to end the long-term challenges exacerbated by the climate crisis.
Laura Feinstein, who leads work on climate and environmental resilience at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy nonprofit, said: California’s system was built for a climate we don’t have anymore.
“We’re still not out of the drought.”