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.