Will the California storms end the state's extreme drought?

'We are soaked - this place is soaked,' Governor Gavin Newsom says

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

California has experienced an onslaught of torrential rains from at least six atmospheric rivers this winter but one question is on the minds of many: Will this bring an end to the historic drought in the western US state?

“We are soaked — this place is soaked,” Governor Gavin Newsom said of the record rains on Tuesday.

While weather predictions forecast three more atmospheric rivers on the way, climate experts say the wet weather will not end the drought — but it certainly is helping curb conditions and filling reservoirs.

“Nearly all of California has seen much above average rainfall totals over the past several weeks, with totals 400-600 per cent above average values,” the National Weather Service, or NWS, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week recorded extreme and exceptional drought throughout the state and predicted that conditions would improve in the beginning of the year.

The NWS this week reported that some regions have recorded one to two drought class improvements because of the rains.

California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency due to the winter storms, with many counties under flood warnings.  EPA

However, the record level of rains are still not enough to halt the drought that has plagued most of the Golden State, with fierce wildfires, water restrictions, energy shortages and power cuts occurring for years.

“The one benefit of above normal rainfall in California is the relief from persistent drought that has been plaguing the state for quite some time,” one NWS briefing read on Tuesday.

The atmospheric rivers are not the answer as the weather systems are slim in size and not affecting every drought-impacted region in the state, including Northern California.

The rains are filling reservoirs that have been at record low levels in recent years, but some are so large that the atmospheric rivers will not be able to fill them back to normal levels.

The wet weather is also bringing snowfall to California's mountains, while concerns are that the state's new climate will not allow for the snow to stick around to combat drought conditions.

Updated: January 11, 2023, 6:39 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS