Dry conditions in California: Reservoir, snowpack, drought monitor update

Measured in cash receipts, California’s agricultural production surpassed $47 billion in 2015/16. As the top source for many food crops, particularly fruits and nuts, many in the food industry like to keep an eye on the state’s precipitation—a lesson learned the hard way after the drought conditions that lasted from the end of 2011 through the winter of 2017. Today, the state’s water supply presents a mixed picture. First, the good news: As of mid-March, ten of the state’s 12 major reservoirs are at 90 percent or above compared to historical levels. Less good: The water in the reservoirs ranges between 43 and 82 percent of their individual capacities.

Reporting on the Sierra snowpack is troubling, however. Sensor data suggests that the snowpack is low, only about 36 percent of average for this date in the Southern Sierra, 40 percent in the Central Sierra, and just 32 percent for the Northern Sierra.

The Drought Monitor, as shown below, is also worrisome. As anyone can see, conditions are ranging from abnormally dry in the north to moderate to severe drought in the south, with only a few counties spared.

U.S. drought monitor, California

Click on image to view
Source: Richard Tinker CPC/NOAA/NWS/NCEP
Posted by: Information Services
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One Comment

  1. Nasrin Salehnia June 20, 2019 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I want to mention an important tip. According to the definition of WMO (2006) drought, in contrast to aridity, drought affects almost all climates in the world, so aridity is a nature of a region but drought is a temporary event which we can elaborate to find ways for adaptation, and mitigation strategies, through monitoring and forecasting it.
    One of the important phase for understanding drought event is “Drought Monitor”. For this aim we should use different drought indices, such as PDSI, SPI, Z-score, and etc., as you know there are different codes and packages in R and Matlab, but they are not user-friendly tools. I want to inform you three applicable tools as follows:
    MDM (Meteorological Drought Monitor), RDIT (Rain-based Drought Indices Tool), and DMAP (Drought Monitor And Prediction).
    See the bellow links to visit them:

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