NASA Images Show a Complete Water Transformation on Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake has filled up for the second consecutive year, just in time for summer 2024. This marks a significant recovery from the severe drought conditions experienced between 2019 and 2022, and we have the photos to prove it.

NASA’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured a striking image on May 7, 2024, showing Shasta Lake at 96 percent of its total capacity, which is 114 percent of the average for that date:

This is a dramatic improvement from April 24, 2022, when Landsat 9 showed the lake at only 39 percent capacity:

The drought that began in 2019 left Shasta Lake and many other reservoirs at critically low levels. However, the heavy rains and meltwater from an above-average snowpack in early 2023 initiated a substantial recovery. By the end of May 2023, the lake had filled to 98 percent capacity, effectively erasing the prominent “bathtub ring” of exposed shoreline that had been visible during the drought years.

In 2024, Shasta Lake’s water levels rose swiftly starting in mid-January due to a series of moisture-laden storms. By mid-February, reservoir levels were so high that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had to increase water releases to manage flood risk, a measure not needed since 2019. This proactive flood control ensured space for incoming stormwater and reduced downstream flood threats.

Shasta Lake’s recovery is mirrored by other reservoirs in the state. Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir, has also reached full capacity for the second consecutive year, holding 128 percent of its average capacity by early May 2024 despite ongoing water releases throughout the winter.

These back-to-back years of abundant water supply have brought much-needed relief to California’s water resources, supporting irrigation, municipal water supplies, and flood control, while also aiding in the long-term sustainability of the state’s water infrastructure.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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