California water watch: Pineapple express not a cure-all?
The Pineapple Express, the atmospheric river that freights moisture from the Pacific to the West Coast, has brought recent rainstorms that have helped bolster California water supplies. The threat of a resumption of multiyear droughts still weighs on the state, and the data remain mixed at best. Yes, the water levels for all but two reservoirs are above or near the historical average through Apr. 10. In absolute terms, the levels at reservoirs are reported as being from 63 percent to 90 percent of capacity—up 20 points on the low end from a month ago.
What about actual drought conditions? Some 40.9 percent of the state is reported in moderate drought or worse, compared to 12.7 percent at the start of the year. Extreme drought is only reported for 2.5 percent at this time. Based on current forecasts, Southern California is expected to miss out on additional rains expected for the northwest states and northern California in the middle of April.
Finally, conditions for the snowpack have improved but remain far from ideal. Snowpack for the central Sierra region is at 51 percent of normal levels, a bright spot only in comparison to the snowpack for the northern and southern Sierras, reported at 36 percent and 39 percent of normal, respectively.
U.S. drought monitor, California
Source: Richard Tinker CPC/NOAA/NWS/NCEP
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