Current California drought and future water supply

current-california-drought-and-future-water-supply

California’s weather this year was marked by significant drought conditions that could have lasting implications on the state’s water supply. Twelve months period over which hydrologic records are kept is measured from July 1 to June 30 and as of February 1, 2012, the precipitation in California had only hit 60% of the average.

Contrary to last’s year snowpack average of 135%, this year’s totals are drastically low in snowpack water content. As of March 12, resting at 35% of the average for this time of year and only between 25 and 35% of last year.

“Water year 2012 is beginning to look like it will be one of our drier water years, currently running in the lower 20 percent rank of years.” (california.gov)

Reservoir storage is the bright spot in the outlook, still about 10% above average for the date, thanks to a bountiful 2011 according to website by government of California. There is concern that although reservoirs are more filled than they have been, with so low of snowpack there will be a water loss this year. The real implications will likely be seen next season, depending on the amount of precipitation that falls should an El Niño pattern occur.

Meteorologists forecast that the current La Niña pattern should be entirely neutral by April. However, it is possible that the pattern may not switch to El Niño until next fall. We can expect very wet winter next year for California with potential for widespread flooding if this occur. (AccuWeather)

Featured image: A dry riverbed in California (Credit: NOAA)

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