A pause to California's drought?

The past few days have delivered some needed rain and snow to California. It is still early in the rainy season, but the short term forecast is for more rain and snow through this week, into next.

Reservoir levels in the state have started to recover. See link below on the water status. Lake Oroville, for instance, was recently at 29% of capacity. Today, it shows 37%.

The state also tracks the mountain snow pack water content. To repeat, it is still early in the season, but the current trend looks promising.

Lastly, the shorter term and one-month forecasts shows wetter than usual conditions in the US west.


  • Pete

Remember the difference between WEATHER and CLIMATE.

What you are seeing is WEATHER. It will take years to see if the current DROUGHT continues–or is ending (IMO, unlikely the drought ends).


We’re just getting wet, there is some slight gains in the reservoirs, lakes, but the tell will be in the Sierra snowpack and how wet that is. With all the restrictions on water usage, it’s sad to see so much in these wet times flow out to sea, but we just have to see how the ‘climate’ overall does… Don’t want to see more firestorms… We also don’t need to be growing lawns in SoCal…

It is good to remember that drought can be both long-term and/or short term (climate and/or weather).



It has been raining for weeks in northern Portugal and the reservoirs have been filling up. Sunny days are good for walking! Today is one!

The Captain

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This is from the above weather statement.

To put it simply, this will be one of the most impactful systems on a widespread scale that this meteorologist has seen in a long while. The impacts will include widespread flooding, roads washing out, hillside collapsing, trees down (potentially full groves), widespread power outages, immediate disruption to commerce, and the worst of all, likely loss of human life. This is truly a brutal system that we are looking at and needs to be taken seriously.

Also seen on twitter, there is little hope that the climate pattern (polar vortex) that has set up this winter’s weather will break before the first of February.

Also, the folks at Point Arena are speculating that the 35 waves predicted there will wipe out their pier.

Sounds rough.

Qazulight (Fire risk is low though)


“normal” levels for the various reservoirs is about 60%-80% depending on which lake.
The snow pack was measured at about 174% compared to average on this date



Don’t forget that this average is a figure that keeps rising all through the snow season in the Sierras. So what is a good snow pack for the beginning of January is probably well below average for the end of April.

We’ve got some favorable atmospheric conditions for now and for the next couple of weeks. But that could change and not return again this winter, leaving us still in drought conditions for the year. Just a smaller drought than in the last few years.

In the badly paraphrased words of some old guy many years ago, this isn’t the beginning of the end of the drought. At best, it’s the beginning of the beginning of the end of the drought. There’s a whole lot more to go, and we have no idea what the next few months will bring.


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I think the 174% is about half of full season normal if it was measured still there in April. But we’ve got lots of rain still coming next week.

I have a glass solarium on the back of my house. When it rains enough and with strong enough winds the house stucco gets saturated and and I get a few drips of water onto the concrete floor. It happened yesterday for the first time in 5+ years
(This was improper installation by the contractor. I installed one on my previous house and you have to cut all the way through the stucco, install fleshing and seal with caulk to prevent this)


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And the rain continues in northern California. For example, the 10-day forecast for San Francisco is currently calling for another 3.5 inches of rain.


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And from three weeks ago:



Two items

  1. One Northern California reservoir, Folsom Lake, is already above its normal avg for this time of year. To my knowledge, the level is set lower, to account for snow run-off later in the year.
  2. The town of Montecito has ordered an evacuation. Does this mean Oprah has to leave too?
    Everyone in California’s Montecito ordered out amid deluge (yahoo.com)

I know that this is not CA, but reading this thread caused me to look up the current level of Lake Meade after all of the rain that has been falling on the West Coast.

This is a nice 3-year graphical view:

→ it looks like its starting to head in the right direction


I’d suggest adding the rest of the available years (click on the greyed out year just below the chart) to get a better picture.

The level of the lake may be going up, but it’s still incredibly low.


Lake Powell is the other major reservoir on the Colorado River watershed. Here’s it’s data:

In CA and the west, here’s the larger reservoirs:

Considering that the combined volume of Lakes Mead and Powell are about 5 times the volume of these other three lakes combined, those are the ones to pay attention to in terms of the drought status in the west. And in spite of the recent rain and snow, it’s still pretty bad.



Storms are hitting closer to home - figuratively and literally. Yesterday evening, driving back home, one fairly busy road about 3/4 block from my apartment was flooded was a mini stream on one side. Astute drivers were navigating the area at 15-20 miles/hour.

Today, power went out @ around 10:15 AM. Teleworked for 1/2 the day via library Wifi. Was home about 20 min ago - still no power. Seen multiple PG & E trucks and staff working in the neighborhood streets. Could be a long night ahead.

Rain has paused for now. But lots of dark clouds in the sky.


A small town of about 4000 residents about 10-12 miles from where I live evacuated earlier today.
Checked PG&E website - power has been restored to my 'hood in the last hour. That means I can go home, turn on lights and have a cup of tea or a cup of soup.
I think another storm comes through tomorrow - so some breathing room today