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Looking At Year 5 Of Drought In California

After four years of drought, some parts of California may receive rain to lessen the historic dry period.


The U.S. Drought Monitor shows no changes in the drought across California or throughout the Western U.S. for the period ending Tuesday, September 29.

But the report released October 1 says any rain falling after Tuesday morning (Sept. 29) will be incorporated into next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

"Across California and the Great Basin, drought remained unchanged as the region continued through its climatologically dry summer season. However, heat exacerbated the impacts of the region’s historic drought, with daytime highs reaching or eclipsing 100°F from central California into the southern Great Basin," the report noted.

The Drought Monitor intensity levels are Abnormally Dry, Moderate, Severe, Extreme and Exceptional Drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Oct. 1 shows 92 percent of California is in severe drought, 71 percent in extreme and 46 percent in exceptional drought.

California is looking at a potential fifth consecutive year of drought. A look at a comparison of the drought in the state shows how much it has intensified from September 2011 to September 2015.

100115 CA Comparison

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 76 percent of Nevada is in severe drought, 37 percent in extreme and 15 percent is in exceptional drought.

There was no improvement in the Pacific Northwest in the past week. Oregon and Washington are 100 percent in severe drought. Extreme drought covers 67 percent of Oregon and 68 percent of Washington.

A look at the drought depiction comparison for the Western U.S. from September 2011 to September 2015, shows how much drought has changed in the past four years across the region.

Western Comparison


State Water Conservation Mandate Becomes More Challenging

Looking ahead, the National Weather Service 6- to 10-day outlook for October 6-10 calls for above-normal precipitation and near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, with drier-than-normal conditions confined to the lower Southeast, according to the report.

Water providers in California are under a mandate from the California Water Resources Control Board to meet specific water conservation requirements from June 2015 through February 2016.

For example, the Sacramento Surburban Water District, is required to reduce its water use by 32 percent from June through February 2016 compared to the same period in 2013. 

District Assistant General Manager Dan York says, so far, customers are meeting the requirement. 

But the SSWD is concerned that meeting that goal will be more challenging for its 173,000 customers during the winter months, which will require reducing more indoor water use.

The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook shows drought persists and intensifies over much of California and Nevada through December 2015, and over all of Oregon and Washington. But, the outlook shows some improvement to California's central and southern coast.

"Along the central and southern California coast, and in a broad swath from the Southwest to the Southeast, abundant precipitation, especially later in the period, is expected to bring widespread improvement," according to the seasonal outlook.


0924 Seasonal Outlook

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