California: Spring Won’t Offset Dry Winter, Dangerous Drought Ahead

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The state of California will likely be facing a dangerous summer and fall that could bring red flag fire warnings and water shortages following a dry winter that has created a drought that even a wet spring can’t offset.

With the coronavirus pandemic capturing headlines, a news report that is usually greatly anticipated was mostly overlooked this week, and the headline is grim: California may have another disaster on its hands come summer and fall as it finds itself in drought conditions that not only could mean water shortages, but a dangerous fire season that may be even worse than the horrific multi-fire outbreak the state experienced last year.

Too little snow will leave California in drought come summer and fall

As much as we’ve been hearing stories in the news about the mountains and Sierra Nevada snowfall late into spring, even that has been too little, too late.

The California Department of Water Resources conducted its fourth manual snow survey of the year on Apr. 1, 2020 and the news isn’t good.

The results show that water supplies are going to be tight in the state during the summer and fall. The measurements indicated that the statewide snowpack as well below average.

A survey at Echo Summit found the snowpack was less than one-third of the amount that is normal for this time of year. The survey taken at Phillips, which is near the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, was only 53% of normal.

Even a wet spring won’t offset California’s dry winter

Authorities were hoping for a March miracle, and even though the month saw repeated rounds of snowfall over the Sierra – which was better than expected – it simply was not enough.

Authorities now say that even if California experiences a wet spring, it simply will not be enough to offset the limited snowpack to meet the necessary “snow water equivalent.”

Most parts of California were nearly rain-free in February.

US Drought Monitor survey finds most of state in drought

The US Drought Monitor, a study which is produced by several federal agencies, also found similar results in California as that of the state’s water resources department concluded. The federal survey revealed that 40% of California is facing drought-like conditions, while another 35% is considered abnormally dry.

In Northern California in Siskyou County, which borders Oregon, it is in severe drought. Most of the western half of northern California and central California is rated as being in severe drought.

The portions of the state ranked abnormally dry were all along the coast of the southern half of the state, including the large metro areas of Southern California which include Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, and Inyo counties.

The other abnormally dry portions of the state are all along the counties which border Nevada to the north and central portion of the state.