Heavy rain and snow in California doesn’t mean the state will get out of drought

The first drought monitor of the year was just released and it shows conditions finally improving in the western U.S.

Farmers in the western half of the country received heavy rain and high-elevation snow as we closed out 2022, totaling more than six inches in some places.
The Mississippi Valley through the Ohio Valley also received widespread precipitation. Parts of South Dakota and Nebraska saw up to eighteen inches of snow.

Dryness continued in the Southern Great Plains.

Looking ahead into the next week, heavy rain and snow are predicted to continue in California as well as the Pacific Northwest.
Northern California in particular is getting hit hard with that intense winter moisture right now the snowpack levels are soaring 175 percent above normal.

The stormy first half of December boosted Sierra Nevada levels from three inches to eleven by the time we got to the holidays. Then another round of storms came the week after Christmas, boosting levels even further.

USDA Meteorologist, Brad Rippey says that even more, wet weather is on the way: “Now this week, yet another significant system. In fact, by the time we get to the weekend, we’ll be looking at two more major Pacific storm systems moving ashore. So, as we speak at this moment, the water equivalency of the Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at seventeen inches. That is about 175 percent of the early January average, and it gets us two-thirds of the way to what would be a normal snowpack by the time we get to April 1st. This is really looking good following three years of drought and eight years of snowpack deficiency of the last eleven.”

One word of caution, this does not necessarily mean California can put its multiyear drought behind it. The biggest reservoirs are still about 27 percent lower than the 20-year average.