Despite Storm, Drought Continues in California

Despite Storm, Drought Continues in California

The Pacific rainstorm that bore down on much of California Tuesday did little to alleviate the effects of the state’s historic drought.

State water officials told the Los Angeles Times that California would need to see 150% of its average rainfall, or 75 total inches of rain, this year to get out from under the drought. 

Lake Oroville, the most critical storage component of the California State Water Project and the second-largest reservoir in the state, gathered 5 billion gallons of water over the last 10 days, the Times reports. Still, that number is less than one percent of the reservoir’s total capacity.

“Even if you had a tremendous downpour this weekend, who knows what’s going to happen in the next two months,” California Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson told the paper. “We certainly hope that the rainfall we have now pushes us toward normal – but we’re still below normal… We’re just trying to get to average.”

This week’s rainfall could certainly be classified as a “downpour”; downtown Los Angeles saw 1.15 inches of rain Tuesday, breaking the record set on that date in 1961. And in Monterey, the stormy weather came close to bringing one of the wettest periods in the last decade to the area.

All of that rain meant good news for water agencies; on Monday, state water officials reportedly doubled the amount of water allocated to state water agencies from the State Water Project in 2015, to 10%, based on an improved rain forecast this season. This allocated water, carried from the Sierra Nevada snowpack south, is crucial to farmers in the Central Valley and parts of Southern California.

Despite the cheery water prospects statewide, homeowners in the San Gabriel foothills were simply trying to keep mud out of their homes

Robert Heinlein, 66, told the Times his home had been hit with 2,500 tons of mud after a massive debris flow in March. On Halloween, his home got hit again, this time with another three feet of mud.

“Now they claim it’s all coming back,” Heinlein said. “If we get three inches of rain we’ll get a 10-foot mud flow.”

62-year-old Oliver Svenson, surveying the rain in downtown Los Angeles, took a different approach.

“I’m enjoying the rain – I like the four seasons,” he told the paper. “I’m getting into meditation and looking for a fresh perspective.”

Skiers and snowboarders in California can also look at the weather report with some optimism; according to San Francisco Chroncle ski blog Slope Dope, many ski resorts across the Sierra Nevada are gearing up to begin the season. Mammoth Mountain saw between 7-10 inches of snow at the base, and expects a full two to three feet by the time the storm ends.