What a difference! How drought-buster winter has changed NorCal
What a difference!
How drought-buster winter has changed NorCal.
Jerry Brown declared earlier this month, but it’s too early to parade in our rain, scientists say.
The thing about record droughts is that they take a long time to recover from.
"The odds of the state completely recovering from its extreme dryness within two years are estimated at less than 1 percent," said Dr. Eugene R. Wahl, paleoclimatologist and lead author of the study for the National Centers for Environmental Information of the NOAA.
So despite a wetter-than-average winter, areas that suffered the worst during the dry spell may need decades to recover, scientists say.
Some locations are more than 8 feet behind in rainfall.
Most of Northern and interior California has seen a short-term replenishment of lakes and reservoirs, but long-term recovery is not a sure thing.
Still, the much higher water levels are a strong first step, as the above gallery shows.
Click to see what dramatic changes the wet winter has made to Northern California.
California’s drought and recovery defying climate odds
California’s drought and recovery defying climate odds.
Meteorologists expected precipitation debts accrued during California’s historic drought to last decades, but a new analysis suggests the debts could be erased this year.
Between October 2011 and September 2015, California experienced its driest four-year spell since scientists began tracking precipitation totals in 1895.
"But, that may be what’s happening right now if very wet conditions continue into spring."
Extreme El Niño conditions have buoyed rainfall totals during the last two years.
As a result, the state’s drought recovery has been faster than 80 percent of the bounce backs from similar dry spells.
Though official precipitation records only date back to 1895, researchers can use paleoclimatic data from soil cores, rock samples and other geochemical signatures to track historic precipitation totals and droughts.
Research suggests the drought between 2011 and 2015 was especially historic for two of California’s climate regions, the San Joaquin Drainage and the South Coast Drainage.
Scientists estimate the two climate divisions hadn’t experienced a comparable four-year dry spell since at least 1571.
Models estimated the chance of the two regions recovering from such a spell in less than two years was effectively 0 percent.