News and Stories

UPDATE: California Drought

March 19, 2018

Storms over the last week have brought much-needed rain and snow to California. Despite recent wet conditions, the state’s snowpack is less than half of normal, rainfall totals remain below average, and half of the state is in a moderate drought. With only a couple of weeks left in the rainy season, these late storms may not be enough to keep drought conditions from becoming more severe.

Snowpack is an important source of water, providing snow melt to reservoirs through the spring and early summer months. The recent storms have boosted the snowpack, but it remains at less than half of normal (48%). California’s snowpack sits at 13.1 inches of snow water content, meaning that if all the snow melted right now, the state would only have 13.1 inches of water.

Below are pictures of Yosemite Valley’s Half Dome, taken March 19 of each year, from 2015 through 2018. These photos illustrate the severity of the drought at its peak in 2015 along with the snow-covered Half Dome in 2017. This year’s snowpack is below normal, but it hasn’t reached the dire level seen in 2015. Listed below are snowpack levels for the state at the time the Yosemite Valley Half Dome photos were taken:

  • 2015 – snowpack water content was 3.2 inches (11% of normal)
  • 2016 – snowpack water content was 24.9 inches (90% of normal)
  • 2017 – snowpack water content was 44.7 inches (162% of normal)
  • 2018 – snowpack water content is 13.1 inches (48% of normal)

Drought Update 1.PNG

Even with recent storms, California rainfall totals are below seasonal norms in three of four key growing regions (as noted in the rainfall chart below). Although rain and snowpack levels are low, most of the state’s reservoirs remain at historic averages from last year’s extremely wet winter. These reservoirs will help the state make it through what appears to be an abnormally dry year for a majority of the state.

More storms are expected to bring rain and snow to California this week. Markon will provide more information as it becomes available.

Drought Update.PNG

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

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