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The Dry Winter Is Bringing Drought Conditions Back to California

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The state's slowly slipping back into drought conditions as precipitation remains elusive. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)
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Drought conditions are back in parts of California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

That’s because, as you may have noticed, we’ve had a less than stellar rainy season so far.

Last year, by the end of our wet season we were in good shape. This year we got hit by a lot of rain at the start of December, but since then it’s been pretty dry.

Southern California’s been luckier than the northern part of the state, in that some of the storms that snaked around them have run into us.

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That said, all parts of the state are experiencing below average rainfall and hotter than average temperatures, which means things are drying out faster than they otherwise would.

Don’t worry about your tap running dry just yet. Last year pumped up our reservoirs to record levels. But the state’s snowpack – which is crucial for healthy ecosystems, agriculture and the hose in your backyard – is hovering at around half of what it should be.

All hope is not lost though.

We get the majority of our rain between December and April. So, we’ve still got roughly a month and a half to turn things around, which could happen with a big storm system or two.

THE STATS:

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  • By the end of January, California’s precipitation was about three inches behind the 99 year average.
  • Downtown Los Angeles has done a bit better than elsewhere in the state, receiving 7.28 inches of rain, not far behind the historical average of 8.82.
  • January temperatures were four degrees hotter than average, and February temperatures have been about two degrees hotter so far.
  • The water levels in our reservoirs are looking good compared to the historical average, because of last year's rains.
  • Our all-important snowpack is about 58 percent of what it should be by this time of the year.

GO DEEPER: