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NOAA: California Drought Likely Lingers Through Summer

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the drought that started in 2011 in California will linger into summer. 

NOAA reports that after nearly four years of drought, the California water deficit can only be made up by "epic amounts of rain and snow" and that isn't likely to happen. 

In an article on NOAA’s Climate.gov website, “It poured in California in December. Can we stop talking about the drought,” the agency used graphics to explain how much rain and snow is needed to end the dry times in the Golden State. 

0113 CA_drought _percent _of _normal _precipitation _needed _610

NOAA said if warmer temperatures bring more rain than snow in the Sierra Nevada, areas that depend on melting snowpack in late spring and summer will be left wanting. NOAA report said the snowpack is currently 50 percent of normal. 

In the San Joaquin Valley, rains 275 percent of normal - or 38 inches - would have to fall through the end of September just to reach 50 percent of normal over the last four years. 

“Rains have been so below average in the San Joaquin Valley that nearly record amounts of rain (27.74 inches) would be needed by September simply to bring the most recent four-year period out of the driest 20 percent of years on record,” NOAA reported. “In Northern California, precipitation would need to roughly double what’s normal for the area." 

0113 Total Precipitation December _2014-610

The drought levels monitored by the U.S. Drought Monitor range from abnormally dry to exceptional (the worst level of drought). In early December, 55 percent of California was in exceptional drought.

Heavy rain and snow the first two weeks of December dropped the area of "exceptional drought" to 32 percent. But the entire state remains 100 percent abnormally dry. 

0108 Cali Weather p

U.S. Drought Monitor maps and summaries are released Thursday at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time.  

On January 8, 2015, the NOAA National Climatic Data Center 2014 U.S. Climate Report said California, Nevada and Arizona had their warmest year on record. 

NOAA reported that in 2014, there were eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States, below the average of 10 in the last five years. Those events include the western U.S. drought.