Recent California Rain and Snow Too Little, Too Late

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
March 8, 2014; 7:07 AM ET
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Following one of the driest years on record for the Golden State, recent rain and snow were welcomed with open arms. However, despite improving conditions, 2014 is not off to a better start, as nearly 91 percent of the state still remains in a severe drought as of Tuesday, March 4, 2014, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

"The storm has had an impact and the numbers are better then they were before; however, when you take the whole picture into view, it hasn't really helped a great deal," AccuWeather U.S. Western Weather Expert Ken Clark said.

Thanks to the most recent rounds of rain and snow throughout California, Los Angeles and San Francisco both received at least 86 percent of their normal rainfall for the month of February. However, farther south, San Diego only received 44 percent of the city's normal precipitation for February.

"This was a decent storm but it was a fairly typical winter storm. It's not unusual but it's been the only we've had this year," Clark said.

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As the storm that spanned from the end of February to the beginning of March was the only significant storm that the state received so far in 2014, the overall impact on the drought proved to be minimal.

"The Sierra snowpack is still only about one-third of normal," Clark said. "If you look at the amount of snow cover there is and then look at the reservoir sites, most of them are at below or near all-time record low levels."

Perhaps one of the most alarming actualities are the comparisons between 2013 and 2014, farther showing the severity of the drought in California.

This image was acquired Jan. 18, 2013, by a NASA satellite. (Photo/NASA Earth Observatory)

A NASA satellite obtained this image on Jan. 18, 2014. (Photo/NASA Earth Observatory)

There is a vast difference between the images taken exactly one year apart in the state's mountain ranges. In the second photo, taken this January, only the peaks of the Sierra Nevada bear snow compared to the sufficient snow on the mountains in 2013.

Even farther north, snow is barely visible in the most recent photo in both the Cascade Mountains and the Coastal Range.

As of March 6, 2014, for the entire state only 33 percent of the normal snow water equivalent has been met, according to the California Data Exchange Center. As the snowpack is essential for filling the reservoirs across the state and providing a third of California's water supply according to NASA, concerns are mounting as the region's rainy season is winding down.

"The biggest concerns continue to be how much water is going to be allowed for farming in the Central Valley," Clark said.

With April approaching quickly, many grape growers and farmers alike may find themselves in a tough situation as an ample water supply is vital to yielding an adequate crop.

With almost half of the fruits and nuts grown in the U.S. coming from California, as well as some of the nation's finest wines, higher prices for produce and other commodities are possible across the nation are possible as the drought persists.

As worries escalate, a prolonged dry pattern is in store for much of California, allowing the state no more relief in the near future, thus pushing California even deeper into the drought. With severe drought conditions continuing, the state will be at higher risk for economic loss, reduced crops, water shortages and restrictions and wildfires.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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