Drought Update: Late Autumn 2014

Over the past few weeks, rounds of intense rainstorms fueled by a phenomenon known as a Pineapple Express have soaked the west coast of the United States and helped put a modest dent in California’s nearly 3-year drought.

According to the latest report from the US Drought Monitor, 32% of California is currently facing conditions of “exceptional drought”, the worst possible category. That is an improvement from last week’s 55%.   Nonetheless, 100% of California – a state generally considered to be one the most productive agricultural regions in the world – is still in some form of drought.

Water levels in reservoirs throughout this country’s most populated state also remain low. Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, the two largest reservoirs in California, are both currently at 33% of total capacity and only 55% of the historical average for the date.

With winter considered the “rainy season” in California, it is possible for additional storms to continue slowly reducing the region’s long-term drought conditions. Scientists working with NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites say that California needs 11 trillion gallons of water, enough to fill more than 16 million olympic-size swimming pools, to completely end the drought.


Credit: US Drought Monitor