580 Billion Gallons of Water Added to California Reservoirs in Less than 1 Month (Credit: Enterprise Record, UNL Drought Monitor, Meteorologist Jessica Olsen)
DISCUSSION: Winter often provides much needed relief for states experiencing extended drought. California currently contributing only 7.77% of no drought seen, is seeing 92.23% of its land experiencing D0-D4 drought, where D0 is Abnormally Dry to D4 begin Exceptional Drought (the highest classification) according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s National Drought Mitigation Centers’ Drought Monitor (UNL).
Excessive rains due to the winter season in California have brought some positive impacts to the state, which include the addition of significant fresh water to reservoirs, and some decrease in D1-D4 classification of drought. An estimated 580 billion gallons of water were added to 47 reservoirs currently monitored by officials. Representatives from the Enterprise-Record estimate nearly 9 million residents of California are using these 47 reservoirs. Much of the precipitation was due in part to a large swath of moisture in the upper atmosphere acting like a river of transportation for the moisture, otherwise known as an “atmospheric river” bringing some form of precipitation, often snow or rain. Estimates are showing significant increases in average water in reservoirs, continuing to add to the positive trend of breaking out of the 5-year extended drought from 2012-2017
Observing the UNL Drought Monitor, comparing the weeks of December 25th, 2018 and January 22nd, 2019, some significant changes in southern and eastern California are apparent. The monitor indicates no D4 (Exceptional Drought), D3-D4 drought has decreased 1.39%, and D2-D4 has decreased an astounding 12.80%, and D1-D4 has decreased 2.94% with an overall elimination of D3 (Extreme Drought) in southern California! These are positive trends as California hopes to continue with precipitation to aid in prevention of forest-fires which have proved rampant in recent years.
For more information on drought and other climate effects visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© 2019 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
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