10 Trillion Gallons of Rain, Snow on Sierras–Still no Drought Relief

10 Trillion Gallons of Rain, Snow on Sierras–Still no Drought Relief

A torrential downpour dropping 10 trillion gallons of water inundated the northern part of the drought-stricken Golden State on Friday before working its way down to the southern part of the state. Yet even with the huge amount of rainfall and a thick white layer of much-needed snow in the north’s Sierra mountain range, experts say it will require a lot more rain, in a consistent way, for the state to see any significant impact on the drought. 

The current dry spell has been deemed the worst drought in 1,200 years

“To have a significant impact on the drought, rainfall would have to duplicate what we’re seeing this week and last week over and over again….We’re not even really seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, yet,” said state Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson, according to the Los Angeles Times

Experts at the Department of Water Resources say that California would need approximately 75 inches of rain by the end of the water year (Sept. 30) to end the drought. Next week storms are expected to bring in only 1 to 3 inches of rain. 

Florida-based meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, Ryan Maue, estimated that 10 trillion gallons of water have rained on California. One inch of rain per square mile works out to 17,378,742 gallons. California has 163,696 square miles which equals out to 10 trillion gallons.

Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento station noted that while that number was “neat,” it is likely imperfect since instant observations are not taken at every point throughout the state. He posited that the number might even be higher.

And skiers in the Sierras also had much for which to be thankful. As of Friday, the snowpack up in the mountain range experienced a 40% increase in snow. 

Overall, the much-needed precipitation in both liquid and snowflake form had made for an atypical winter when giving consideration to the dryness over the last three years. 

Forecasts predict more rain starting this Sunday in Northern California, with Southern California experiencing rain starting on Monday.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz