The whole state of California is in drought


A concrete structure generally underwater can be seen at Folsom Lake on May 10, 2021 in Granite Bay, California.

A concrete structure generally underwater can be seen at Folsom Lake on May 10, 2021 in Granite Bay, California.
Photo: Justin sullivan (Getty Images)

California and many parts of the West depend on the snowpack for water resources. There has been less snowpack and rapid spring snowmelt this year. As a result, the water equivalent of the resulting snow, or the amount of water that will be released from a snowpack when it melts, has been extremely low. In California, the snow-water equivalent is at 6% of normal levels for this time of year. In essence, there is hardly anything left on the ground in the Sierra Nevadas, with state data showing less than an inch of snow water equivalent on average.

The state also started the winter rainy season in times of drought. That, added to a shortage of snow and rain this winter, left the ground so dry that water from the snowpack seeped into the ground instead of pouring into rivers, streams and reservoirs.

“What is amazing for me as a climatologist is to see the snowmelt happen, then to see the lakes and the vapors of the rivers not responding,” Daniel Swain, climatologist at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Nature Conservancy, told CNN. “The ground under the snow is so dry that there is no runoff.”

From this week, the Drought monitor said the entire state of California is currently experiencing some form of drought. Almost three-quarters of the state are in exceptional or extreme drought, the worst categories.



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