As the waning days of March ended in California, the impeding threat of extreme drought was growing throughout the region. The state saw it’s driest stretch ever from January to March and the peak of the three-year drought was doomed to be felt during the summer and fall months of 2022.
Then, April arrived with a series of wet storms that helped much of Northern California move out of extreme drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor released its latest outlook on California drought and the recent precipitation has helped much of NorCal, specifically the North Coast, move from the Extreme Drought designation to Severe Drought. With more heavy rain on the way, other areas of the state could follow suit.
The storms currently slamming NorCal, which many people are calling “second winter,” have been a saving grace for the area toiling from drought for the past decade. Water storage, salmon die-offs and devastating wildfires are just a few of the many negative outcomes of the drought.
The late-season rain will help considerably moving into the sunny season, but some form of drought is still all but guaranteed this year, and planning has already begun to mitigate the dry season.
Cities are outlining plans to decrease water usage by up to 30 percent in order to meet water demands for farmers, wildlife and residents. These plans aren’t without controversy. Residents will be impacted, asked to cut down water usage and do things like paint their lawns.
An urgency change has allowed officials to hold more water in Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville in preparation of the summer season, but that will certainly have a negative impact on the ecosystem of NorCal rivers. It will also surely have a devastating impact on wildlife, especially salmon runs already decimated by drought conditions, water allocations and dams.
“All the technology in the world so far is only delivering to us the best documented extinction of native species,” said John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association.
It remains unknown how much precipitation will be seen in the coming weeks, but anything wet will be very helpful for the ecosystem of NorCal later this year. Keep rain dancing!