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Climate and Environment

California Faces Its Worst Year On Record For Drought Conditions

An aerial view of the mountains shows scant snowpack.
View from an observation plane taken by Mammoth-based Airborne Snow Observatories earlier in February.
(Courtesy Airborne Snow Observatories)
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If California doesn't get substantially more rain, this year could be the worst ever for the state's drought conditions.

Alvar Escriva-Bou, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, said we likely won't see any rain in February, but next month could bring better results.

"In 1991, we were in drought and we had a March Miracle, meaning it was a really rainy March," he said.

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Topographical map of California shows snowpack levels as of Feb. 4
At the start of February, Northern Sierra/Trinity and Central Sierra were at 89% of normal and South Sierra was at 92%
(Courtesy Dept. of Water Resources)

But even if that happens again next month, Escriva-Bou said he's not confident it will take the out of drought.

"Only a generous year of rainfall" will move the needle out of the danger zone, he said.

Residents can conserve water by installing things like low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads, landscaping with native plants and turning off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving.

What questions do you have about Southern California?