Is California's Historic Drought Over?

Jan 30, 2017 By Caitlin L, Young Editor
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With the recent rainstorms in California, could the long, five-year drought be finally over?  

It’s hard to say, because as many scientists have mentioned, there are too many aspects to measure in order to determine if a drought is over, such as average rainfall, soil moisture, and temperature.  

Regardless, with the heavy snow and precipitation that have been going on since October, California’s situation is significantly improved.

Five Years of Drought

On January 17th, 2014, the drought in California was officially announced as an emergency. The situation was so bad that California’s Governor Jerry Brown had to limit water across the state, with fines due if each community could not meet the requirements. This was the first ever limitation to be put on water consumption.

That is because it’s been one of the worst droughts in the past century, with millions of people affected. The lack of water has caused hills of California to turn from lush green to a dusty brown, reservoirs to shrink and dry up, and wildfires to occur more frequently. However, most of all, the drought has had a major impact on the agriculture, with profits lost because of crops dying in the dry heat.  

But where did the problem come from? Some scientists have said the drought was caused by global warming, with 2014 being the third highest record temperature in California. As a result, the heat evaporated water in the soil. However, the reason could also be a natural one. A mass of warm water from the Pacific Ocean crept up closer to coast, preventing clouds from forming. Either way, scientists are still not completely sure.

Rainstorms and Recovery

With that being said, conditions are improving. From last fall to now, Northern California has already almost met its average annual precipitation, and snow in the north is plentiful.

The National Drought Mitigation Center has declared the drought in Northern California to be officially over. For the state as a whole, around 30% of California previously classified as “severe drought” is now out of that range.

However, most of the South is still suffering from the drought and the amount of rainfall still does not meet the demands of the people in California.

Some cities still don’t have a reliable water source if the drought decides to continue. This means although things are looking up, it’s still important that we pay attention to our water consumption and conserve water whenever possible.