News and Stories

UPDATE: California Drought

February 12, 2018

Higher-than-normal temperatures in California coupled with minimal snow and rain during the 2017-2018 winter season are leading many to believe the state will slide back into a drought. Although California’s governor declared the drought emergency over in April 2017, drought conditions are reappearing in areas throughout the state. Moderate drought conditions are being experienced in 46% of the state, mainly in Southern California and California’s San Joaquin Valley (see below California Drought Monitor for more information).

After an extremely wet winter last year that filled the state’s reservoirs, many of California’s growing regions have seen less than half of average rainfall this year. In addition to limited rainfall, California’s snowpack is low for this time of year at 4.4 inches of snow water content (23% of normal). That means, if the entire snowpack suddenly melted, only 4.4 inches of water would result. This year’s snowpack is much lower than last year’s levels which were 181% of normal. The state’s snowpack is key to providing snowmelt to reservoirs during the spring and summer months. Current snowpack water content levels for the three main regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are listed below:

  • Northern Sierra snowpack is below normal levels at 3.8 inches (20% of normal)
  • Central Sierra snowpack is below normal levels at 5.6 inches (27% of normal)
  • Southern Sierra snowpack is below normal levels at 3.4 inches (20% of normal)

Although snowpack and rainfall totals are low, most of California’s reservoirs have water stored from last year’s wet winter. The reservoirs are as full as they can be while leaving empty space available for flooding, should it happen. California’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, is currently 74% full while the state’s other large reservoirs (Lake Oroville, Folsom Lake, and San Luis Reservoir) are also over half full. Water in these reservoirs will help the state make it through a dry year.

CA Drought Monitor_02-08-18.jpg

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

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