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A freeway sign urges residents to conserve water amid a severe drought. (Photo: F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock)

Report: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento No Longer Under Drought Conditions

63% of California is also no longer under drought conditions

By Evan Symon, March 16, 2023 12:25 pm

According to new data released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday, the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento are no longer under any drought conditions, with over 63% of the state also now no longer experiencing drought.

Since the late 2010’s, California has had megadrought conditions across the state resulting in water restrictions in both urban and agricultural areas, as well as record lows in reservoir levels across the state. In 2022, many predicted an even drier 2023, with even more restrictions coming to help preserve water.

October 2022 California Drought levels (Photo: U.S. Drought Monitor)

However bomb cyclone and atmospheric rivers events in January and March of this dumped rainfall and snowfall across the state, drastically improving the water situation in California. Reservoirs across the state have been rapidly refilled, ground water has been recharged significantly, and snowpack on mountains is currently above 200%, with 100% being measured on April 1st generally being considered an indicator if much of California will get enough water for the rest of the year. Earlier this week, Southern Californian water officials even ended water restrictions for over 7 million residents.

February 2023 California Drought levels (Photo: U.S. Drought Monitor https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu)

Even before the March storms, the drought  was heading out on it’s way. Drought Monitor statistics at the end of February showed that only half the state was under drought conditions, with no part of the state being at ‘extreme drought’ levels. Compared to where the state was only a few months before, with nearly all the state experiencing drought conditions and extreme drought affecting around a quarter of the state, the improvements were remarkable.

With March precipitation put into account for the first half of the month, the situation across the state has improved drastically after only a few more weeks. The total amount of land in California experiencing severe drought fell from 19% at the end of February to only 8.5% in Mid-March. Meanwhile, areas with no drought went up from 56% to 63%. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento were all pulled of being in any drought category as well, with San Diego and Orange County only being listed as being ‘abnormally dry’. In total, only 4.7 million Californians are now experiencing drought of any kind.

March 2023 California Drought levels (Photo: U.S. Drought Monitor)

“By March 13, season-to-date snowfall at the Central Sierra Snow Lab at California’s Donner Pass exceeded 650 inches, compared to a normal full-season total of around 360 inches,” said the Drought Monitor report on Wednesday. “Looking more broadly at the western U.S., snow-water equivalency values greater than 200% of normal extend from the Sierra Nevada across much of the Great Basin and into parts of Utah.”

Drought quickly going away in California

Water experts noted on Thursday that California was now in a good place water-wise this year, and that the Drought Monitor report only proved that California is going to be prepared even if temperatures rise like they did last year.

“So we have those storms coming again next week,” explained Jack Wesley, a water systems consultant for farms and multi-family homes, to the Globe on Thursday. “Let’s just pretend for the rest of the year after that precipitation levels were where they were at last year. Now, we have a lot of water in reservoirs to tide us over for urban use, for agricultural use, and even for environmental use right now. The last one, which means letting a lot of water out of dams, isn’t exactly preferable to say the least, but that’s how much we have stored up right now.”

“We also have a ton of snow up in the mountains, so meltwater will continue to flow for us for sometime after. We are looking at being over double the usual amount of snow where we need to be to have enough water for the rest of the year there beginning in April, so we’re good there. Colorado River and some Northern California rivers might be an issue for some residents, but there are other sources available right now too.”

“If everyone still keeps in mind common sense water saving things to do like not letting the garden hose running when they aren’t using it and not running the sprinkler every day, we’ll have a good year and still have enough saved up in case dry conditions return later in the year or next year. We were expecting another dry year, but as my Minister said last Sunday, ‘God must have accidently not seen all the prayers for rain and answered them all at once.’

“Again, we should still be careful and hedge our bets just in case things dry up later this year, but right now, we’re in good shape when it comes to water, and I haven’t said that in California for some time.”

More storms are expected in the next week, with another drought report and snowpack measuring results due at the end of the month.

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Evan Symon
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2 thoughts on “Report: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento No Longer Under Drought Conditions

  1. The people at U.S. Drought Monitor need to back away from the computer and go outside and look around.

    According to them, all of San Bernardino County is either “abnormally dry” or “moderate drought”. I’m sure the people up in Big Bear, who have been digging out for weeks from under more snow than anyone’s ever seen in their lives, would appreciate knowing that this is what an “abnormally dry” year looks like to the experts at U.S. Drought Monitor.

    Clearly, U.S. Drought Monitor has lost its credibility.

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