California drought recovery possible but 140% of average rain needed

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A weather system is expected to bring significantly cooler temperatures to the Sacramento region this week.

“Weak La Nina events have historically favored near-normal or dry conditions across Northern California,” National Weather Service meteorologist Idamis Del Valle Martinez told FOX40 Tuesday.

According to Del Valle Martinez, who works in Sacramento, the weak La Nina is a weather pattern that is taking shape off the west coast.

She said a ridge of high pressure might prevent many storms from reaching Northern California. 

“In La Nina events, the storm track sets up farther north. That means that there are wetter-than-normal conditions across the Pacific Northwest and drier than normal conditions across Southern California,” Del Valle Martinez explained. “As for Northern California, we’re right in the middle. And that means that we’re dependent upon individual storms.”

Last season was a La Nina year for Northern California, and as feared, the weather pattern delivered few storms with long breaks in between.

But the National Weather Service said it is too soon to panic about the season.

There have been years when the storm track surprised the region, delivering more rain and snow than the long-range forecasts indicated.

“You know, we never really know what to expect. And therefore, we have to be prepared for whatever outcome,” said Jeanine Jones, an interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources. “It would be nice if we had a really wet winter but more likely, we’re probably in store for continued dry conditions which really emphasizes the importance of conservation.”

Jones echoes Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use statewide.

She told FOX40 that reducing landscape watering would make a big difference and she is not removing a spectacular drought recovery as a possibility because it happened in 2017, but it would be a very tall order for the water year.

“The estimate we have from a model run by a USGS model, called the Basin Characterization Model, suggests that we would need 140% of average precipitation to get to average runoff and we don’t have many years in which we get to 140% of precipitation,” Jones explained.

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