Los Angeles

After recent storms, how has the relentless rain impacted California’s ongoing drought?


LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The historic string of storms that drenched the state this year have many wondering whether California’s drought could soon be over.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says “extreme” drought has nearly been eliminated. In January, about 35% of California fell into that category.

An updated report is expected to be released on Thursday, and it will reflect the rain that was received this past week. That’s when areas like Woodland Hills got nearly 10 inches in a 72-hour span.

Despite the large reduction in drought intensity, experts caution that most of the state still remains in the “severe” or “moderate” categories of drought.

Recent storms fill many CA reservoirs, but what does that mean for state’s ongoing drought?

The recent storms have actually filled many of the state’s reservoirs, which could even overflow once all of the snow melts. Officials say the drought conditions across the state are improving and the water supply is looking much more promising than a month ago.

“This is big,” said Paul Pastelok with AccuWeather. “This is big on how much we’ve gotten hit.”

The state’s major reservoirs are located in Northern California, which is where most of the rain and snow has fallen.

As of midnight Monday, Shasta Lake is up to 84% of its historical average, compared to 57% at the beginning of January.

Oroville is higher than its historical average at 116%, up from 71%.

In Southern California, Pyramid and Lake Perris are remaining stable. Castaic has increased from 55% of historical averages on Jan. 1 to 71%. Castaic had retrofit work done in 2021 and with the increased rain, it’s returning to a more normal level.

“Keep in mind, there is a healthy snowpack sitting just upstream of those reservoirs, and so as we start seeing the warmer temperatures come during the spring time, we’re hoping to see a lot of that runoff make it into those reservoirs,” said Demetri Polyzos with the Metropolitan Water District.

So what happens next? Well, it all depends on Mother Nature. Once the snowpack starts melting, the reservoirs could overflow.

“We’re going to start to see these reservoirs, which nine of them are already filled from the rain water, so then you add on snow melt and we may have some problems with that as far as flooding goes,” said Pastelok.

MWD expects some of the reservoirs up north will release water.

It hopes to capture as much of that water as it can.


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