Severe drought continues in California

CA-Drought_14_BlogSquareRecent heavy thunderstorms have done little to alleviate the severe drought conditions throughout almost all of California.

According the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, “severe” drought covers 99.8% of California. In May, 100% of the state was in “severe” drought.

The LA Times reports that a “series of thunderstorms that have hit California in recent weeks may have delivered devastating torrents of rain in some areas, but on the whole they were ‘inconsequential’ in terms of easing the state’s worsening drought.” The paper said the heaviest showers were limited in scope, had high runoff rates and did not happen in two of the state’s key watersheds — the Colorado River basin and the Sierra Nevada.

The rains triggered lethal mudslides and flash floods in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, and thunderstorms both eased and complicated the work of firefighters battling wildfires in Northern California.

But those storms “were pretty much a drop in the bucket,” said Richard Tinker, a drought expert with the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center, as quoted in The Huffington Post. “Any rain this time of year — while a bonus — doesn’t really have much of an effect on the drought.”

The chance of a long-term recovery from the drought has been slipping recently. As reported in the LA Times, the latest long-term forecast shows the chances of a wet El Niño weather pattern bringing drought relief to California starting this fall has decreased to about 65%, and if it does arrive it will probably be weaker than originally expected.

During the four-week period ending on August 5, as reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor, contiguous U.S. drought coverage was virtually unchanged at 34%. Coverage reached its year-to-date peak of 40% on May 6, but subsequent rainfall across portions of the nation’s mid-section and the Southwest has slightly reduced drought’s imprint.

Courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor

Courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor


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