We all knew this day would come.
Following a lackluster winter in which parts of Northern California witnessed record low in precipitation, signs of drought are now showing up all over the area. It’s a disheartening sign for the prospects of water storage and wildfires entering the summer of 2020.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, sections of Siskiyou, Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity and Shasta Counties are now experiencing “extreme drought,” with many other areas seeing “severe drought” and “abnormally dry” conditions. Symptoms of these drought conditions include crop or pasture loss and widespread water loss and restrictions.
The current state of water storage in NorCal remains about average, but that will certainly dip significantly as the Sierra received only about half its annual snowpack this winter. Summer water levels are expected to be lower than that of the past couple of years.
Fish migrations are also expected to be impacted by drought conditions, particularly salmon runs struggling during lowered river runs this fall. Hydropower is also expected to be lowered to keep water levels up in reservoirs like Trinity Lake and Lake Shasta.
Of course, most NorCal residents will name their number one concern with the drought being wildfires, which ravaged communities in the summer of 2018 following 6 years of drought. That wildfire season saw the devastating flames of the Carr Faire, Camp Fire and Mendocino Complex Fire.
It took the record-setting winter of 2019 to revive California from a 7-year drought. But after just a year, we will likely see another significant drought throughout the west coast.