Southern California is gearing up for a massive influx of rain as a powerful Pacific storm is set to make landfall starting Wednesday.
But will the weather event affect the state’s prolonged drought? Experts from California’s Department of Water Resources say that depends on the coming months.
The storm headed towards the Southland, known as an atmospheric river or “bomb cyclone,” according to weather officials, can bring up to 2 to 4 inches of rain to the region, according to the National Weather Service.
While the additional rain and snowfall are welcomed, experts don’t want to be too optimistic about its impact on the state’s drought, especially since a similar weather pattern was seen last year.
Even with the extra water, a news release said that January through March 2022 period was the driest on record.
“Big snow totals are always welcome, but we still have a long way to go before the critical April 1 total,” Sean de Guzman, DWR’s snow surveys and water supply forecasting unit manager, said in a statement.
“It’s always great to be above average this early in the season, but we must be resilient and remember what happened last year. If January through March of 2023 turns out to be like last year, we would still end the water year in severe drought with only half of an average year’s snowpack.”
Experts use the April 1 date since that’s usually when the snowpack peaks in the Sierra Nevada area. On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies California with 30% of its water, a news release said.
During the department’s first snow survey of the season, performed at the Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe, experts measured 55.5 inches of snow, 177% of the average.
This record was the state’s best start to the winter season in 40 years, mainly thanks to storms coming early during the winter season.
Without a clear answer regarding the storm’s effect on the ongoing drought, experts with the water resource department still advise Californians to learn about water conservation efforts on the Save Our Water website.
A common way to save water is by taking shorter showers or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.