Will California’s extreme storms offset the years-long drought? | Drought news

Located on the West Coast of the United States, California — the most populous state in the country — has experienced a The drought lasted for many years depleted reservoirs, forcing officials to plead with residents to save water and limit supplies to important agricultural land.

But in the past three weeks, the state has been affected by series of sudden, severe stormswith more expected in the coming days.

Rain is drenching a state in dire need of water, even if it takes a destroy people. ‘s office Governor Gavin Newsom it is estimated that at least 17 people have was killed in inclement weather.

While experts say the rainfall will help drought conditions, it’s still unclear exactly how much. And rain and snow won’t be enough to solve some of California’s long-term water problems climate change is getting worse.

“We are moving into a warmer and more arid climate,” said Jeannie Jones, federal resource manager at the California Department of Water Resources.

Here’s how the storms will likely affect California’s long struggle with drought.

Where does rain help?

California has experienced heavy rainfall since six atmospheric river — narrow bands of dense steam — in recent weeks.

And the state is preparing for three more, with Wild weather is set to continue for at least another week, Governor Newsom said Tuesday, January 10 from Santa Cruz County, where raging sea water damaged an iconic wooden jetty.

The storms have dumped tremendous amounts of water on the state, especially in central California, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley. Officials say rainfall is 138% of the average for this time of year. The storm also dumped snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains that run along California’s eastern border.

Almost State reservoirs remain below average at this time of year, but some have already begun to fill up, especially those near the hard-hit Sacramento area and along parts of the Sierra Nevada.

Reservoirs are essential for Irrigate the Central Valleyone strip of high-yield agricultural land grow large amounts of fruit, nuts and cereals. Reservoirs also provide water for millions of people living in coastal cities.

For example, a small reservoir in Sonoma County that was just about half of its historic average on December 25 rose to 80% of that average on January 9.

“What we’ve got so far puts us in good shape, maybe for next year at least,” said Alan Haynes, hydrologist in charge of California’s Nevada River Prediction Center.

The Snowpack is its own type of reservoir that stores moisture ideal to melt slowly into the reservoir, providing water for residents during the drier months of summer and fall. But now that ice often melts too quickly and reservoirs can’t hold enough snow.

Laura Feinstein, who leads work on climate and environmental resilience at the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), a public policy nonprofit, : “California’s system was built for a climate we no longer have.

Where can hurricanes subside?

It’s still early winter and it’s unclear what the next few months will bring. Last year, statewide snowfall around this time also looked promising. But it was followed by a few warm, dry months, and when the snow cover is thought to peak in early April, it was only 38% of the historical average.

“We’re still not out of the drought,” Feinstein said.

In addition, the storms did not reduce much water in Northern California. According to Haynes, the state’s largest reservoir at Lake Shasta, at 55% of the historical average on December 25th, rose to 70% on January 10th – an improvement, but still far below with the historical average due to many years of water scarcity.

Atmospheric rivers are not prominent everywhere. They move around “like a garden hose if you spray it all over the yard,” says David Gochis, a water expert on how weather affects the weather at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

“Those biggest reservoirs are so big that it will probably take some time to fill them up,” he said. For some of the largest, most important reservoirs, it can take five or six such flushes, he said.

David Novak, director of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center, said upcoming atmospheric rivers are likely to be weaker. The problem is that the already wet ground won’t be able to absorb more water, causing flow problems. Over the next 10 days or so, he said, weather patterns could change and eventually “turn off the faucet”.

And Colorado Rivera major source of water for Southern California, has also been affected by drought that has depletion of large reservoirs on that river. Recent storms won’t fix that problem.

What about long-term issues like climate change?

Many farmers in California pump water from underground, with vast amounts of water being drawn from aquifers depleting groundwater resources. Some wells are running dry. Experts say this is an inherent problem and will not be resolved by a series of storms in a short time.

“Our management of the land has prevented it from being recharged very well,” said Mike Antos, a watershed expert at Stantec, a consulting firm. He says the Central Valley needs more places for water to seep down and replenish aquifers.

And California is facing a long term problem. Although there have been some interweaving years, the drought in California has been going on for about two decades. Climate change is creating drier, hotter conditions. Water evaporates faster. California officials predict there will be less water in the state’s future.

“So in that big picture, this sequence of storms is really the last straw,” Jones said.


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