California drought watch

California’s fourth year of drought starts a little wetter

With less than one month left in the rainy season, the California Department of Water Resources has released the data from its third sampling of water content in the state’s snowpack, and while not overwhelming, the results are promising. At this time, the water content is 107 percent of normal, compared to last year’s 80 percent at the same point. And, in its March Drought Update, the DWR reports that statewide reservoirs are at 84 percent of average storage through Feb. 24, though several major ones were well below that mark, including Lake Oroville, which was at 54 percent of average. As for rainfall, after three years of below-average numbers, so far, through the first five months of the “water year,” California’s precipitation has increased this season to average levels, according to the Western Regional Climate Center.

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Month Avg CA rainfall (in inches) 2010 CA rainfall (in inches) % of avg October ’09 1.22 2.07 169% November ’09 2.80 0.77 28% December ’09 3.91 3.33 85% January ’10 4.35 6.55 188% February ’10 3.66 3.28 90% Five month totals 15.94 16.0 100.4%