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California Reservoirs Take Hit From Record Dry January

Drew Kelly / The Nature Conservancy
 

Drew Kelly / The Nature Conservancy

Many California cities are expected to record their driest January in history, including Sacramento, Stockton and San Francisco.

"We obviously saw some very nice numbers in December but pretty much Christmas week and beyond, the tap kind of shut off as a ridge of high pressure took residence over the Western U.S. and kept California dry pretty much for the remainder of the month,” said Michelle Mead, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

Mead says that ridge may break down and bring rain late next week. But she said, it's not likely to bring snow to the Sierra.

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Along with what state officials Thursday called a "dismally meager" snowpack in the Sierra, Mead said most of California's major reservoirs are now below their historical averages.

She says two locations the state uses to monitor precipitation for reservoir storage - in the Northern and Central Sierra - are also below average for this time of year.

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"We're now down to 87 percent in the Northern Sierra,” said Mead. “And unfortunately the five-station index that was only up to 75 percent in December is now down to 47 percent of normal.” 

But, Mead said after January, February and March are normally the “wettest” months in Northern California.

"There's still hope out there, we still have February and March to go,” said Mead. “If you remember last year, that's when the tap finally turned on for us, so we're hoping that things will definitely turn around."

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