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Climate and Environment

It'll Take A 'Miracle March' To Avoid A Third Year Of Severe Drought

Two tiny figures walk along a dusty dirty road amid a desert landscape, with mountains towering in the distance. Only a light dusting of snow is visible on the mountaintops.
Film crew workers walk through the Alabama Hills beneath the lightly snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains on February 20, 2022 near Lone Pine, California.
(Mario Tama
/
Getty Images)
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From the looks of the latest snowpack measurements, we’re heading into a third year of severe drought.

The first two months of the year were the driest on record for California, and that goes back more than a hundred years.

Historically, January and February were two of the wettest months of the year, and accounted for a huge amount of our annual water supply. But climate change is undoing old trends.

“We are well below normal conditions statewide,” said Jeremy Hill with the California Department of Water Resources. “And we will really only have about a month left to build up our snowpack, and barring any unforeseen miracle-March — which we don't actually see coming — we'll end this year below average.”

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So with very little precipitation in the forecast, that means the snow we got from those December storms is pretty much all we have to work with.

The latest snowpack measurement, which determines how much water will flow into our reservoirs, is only 63% of California’s average for this time of year.

Statewide, reservoirs are at 73% of average — but the estimated snowmelt won’t be enough to fill them back up.

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