California Gets Rain, But Not Enough

Short-term precipitation totals don't touch long-term drought; Southern California left out

Published on: Feb 13, 2014

In the first significant storm since Oct. 1, parts of central California and the northern Sierra Nevada saw 6-12 inches of precipitation, but it wasn't enough to begin to take the long-term drought that still plagues the area, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

This week's Drought Monitor author David Miskus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the central Sierra still needs 3-4 more big storms to bring this wet season close to average.

Nevertheless, two small areas of improvement were made in locations where the greatest precipitation fell. The Folsom Reservoir on the American River was the big winner in the recent event, doubling its storage; however, it would need to double again to get back to average, Miskus says.

Short-term precipitation totals dont touch long-term drought; Southern California left out
Short-term precipitation totals don't touch long-term drought; Southern California left out

"So to get with this brief glimmer of good news, the bad news is that California has a long, long way to go to get back to normal," Miskus says. February 2012 through January 2014 is the driest two year period on record for the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown visited with farmers on Wednesday at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., chastising lawmakers for fighting over issues with drought assistance, The Fresno Bee reports. President Obama is scheduled to visit Fresno on Friday.

Farther north, moderate to severe drought continues in both Washington and Oregon and a small stretch of extreme drought remains in Idaho, where heavy precipitation fell. Since the previous three months had been relatively dry in the West, however, only minor improvements were made where the greatest precipitation fell.

In light of rapidly accumulating 90-day shortages of over 20 inches along the western coast and 4-8 inches in north-central sections, Miskus says severe drought was expanded northward from Oregon into the Seattle-Tacoma area, and introduced in north-central portions. Moderate drought was also expanded eastward into northern Idaho while abnormally dry conditions slightly shifted into northwestern Montana.