Storms welcome but won’t end California’s historic drought

February 27th, 2014 | by Rob Hopwood | Comments

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(Dennis Drum clears snow from his driveway after a overnight storm near Echo Summit on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. / AP Photo, Rich Pedroncelli)

The first of two back-to-back winter storms has brought much needed rain and snow to California, but it has had little impact on the water content in the state’s snowpack.

Cities and towns across the state have recorded some decent rainfall totals during the past 24 hours.

As of 5 p.m., Honeydew in Northern California reported 2.72 inches of rain, Vacaville recorded .81 inches and Modesto recorded .61 inches. The San Marcos Pass in Southern California recorded 2.43 inches, the University of Southern California recorded 1.07 inches and Long Beach recorded .82 inches.

More rain is coming. A second, wetter storm was expected to begin moving across the state Thursday night.

Even with the much needed moisture, the state’s snowpack is far below average and doesn’t have enough water content to meet the needs of cities and farms this summer, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

“We welcome the late storms but they are not enough to end the drought,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said Thursday in a press release.

Before Tuesday’s storm, the state’s snowpack was 22 percent of average for the date, which was just above the record low of 18 percent recorded in 1991, according to the DWR. By Thursday, the snowpack had improved slightly to 24 percent of average, but remained near historic lows.

The snowpack, which begins melting in early April, provides about a third of the state’s water.

“We can’t control the weather but we can control the amount of water we use,” Cowin said. “This drought is a wake-up call that we all have to take water conservation seriously and make it a way of life.”

More than a quarter of the state is suffering from drought conditions that are described as exceptional by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The latest update, which was released Thursday morning, shows the drought has impacted communities across the state, parching land in all of California’s 58 counties.

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