As California braces for the arrival of El Niño, its lakes and reservoirs remain in impressive condition, bolstered by record-breaking winter precipitation.
Following a historic wet winter, these bodies of water were replenished, with Lake Shasta reaching 98% capacity, Oroville at 100%, and Folsom Lake at 95%. These reservoirs were significantly depleted after three years of drought, languishing at 25-32% capacity before the arrival of massive atmospheric river events.
As of November 9, Lake Shasta stands at 69% capacity (128% of historical average), Oroville at 68% (133% of historical average), and Folsom at 54% (129% of historical average). This decline in capacity is customary as Northern California’s water sources are primarily fed by snowmelt, which typically tapers off in late spring or early summer.
This decline in capacity began with the start of the new water year on October 1, reflecting the standard pattern for water storage graphs in the region.
For the first time since February 2020, California is free from drought conditions, thanks to two exceptionally wet months, January and March. With El Niño strengthening in the eastern Pacific, the state is likely to experience another wet winter.
The state’s reservoirs, which are currently above average, will play a crucial role in flood control as California heads into what could be another precipitation-rich winter. While minor storms have occurred this fall, a major snow-producing system is predicted to hit California next week, setting the stage for a robust snowpack this winter.