Warm winter raises fears of drought in California

Thanks to a handful of January storms, California at least has a snowpack now. Readings by the Department of Water Resources on Jan. 1 were almost nonexistent—just 1.3 inches of snow on average in the Sierras, holding a mere 0.4 inches of water content. That was just 3 percent of the norm for that time of year. Last week, on Feb. 1, DWR’s measurement in the Sierras was up by a foot, to 13.6 inches of snow, but that’s still only 14 percent of the historical average for that area (statewide snowpack is 27 percent of normal). Precipitation numbers in the Sierras—particularly the northern section—this winter haven’t been terrible, they’ve just come along with warmer temperatures, meaning less snow. And with clearer skies and warmer than average weather in the forecast for the next couple of weeks for much of California, fears of a return to drought status are rising.