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California’s Rainfall Totals Are Above Average Thanks To Latest Storms

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

High winds caused havoc for a man using an umbrella as rain pelted Sacramento on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

This week's storms helped push California's water year into above average territory, according to a couple of the state's key tools for measuring.

Precipitation readings in the northern and southern Sierra Nevada jumped above the 50-year average, and the central Sierra’s are expected to do the same soon.

Two rainy seasons ago, this milestone was hit in January. Last year, and several other years this decade, the state didn't hit it at all.

A chart of Northern Sierra precipitation totals as of March 7, 2019.California Department of Water Resources


"There is no longer an average year in California,” said Chris Orrock, from the state's Department of Water Resources. “Because of climate change, it has made the extremes kind of a constant in California."

The northern, central, and southern Sierra Nevada each have their own precipitation measuring stations used to calculate rainfall. These are different from the tools used to monitor snowpack.

The snowpack is at roughly 150 percent of its April 1 average, and most of the state's reservoirs are well above their historic averages.

On the other hand, groundwater supplies — drastically depleted during the drought years — have yet to recover and in many cases, continue to drop.

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