Drought conditions are often characterized by a lack of rainfall (or snowfall) or precipitation in small amounts, higher-than-average temperatures, and dry air masses in the atmosphere.
California is not only the most populated state and the greatest agricultural producer in the United States, but it is also the most biodiverse; as a result, drought in California may have far-reaching economic and environmental consequences.
The United States Drought Monitor was established in 2000. after that, the longest drought (D1-D4) in California since 2000 lasted 376 weeks, began on December 27, 2011, and ended on March 5, 2019, furthermore, The week of July 29, 2014, had the most severe drought, with D4 affecting 58.41% of California’s land, which is still problematic for California.
But at the beginning of 2023, California’s second-highest classification of drought has been nearly erased in California because of storms triggered by atmospheric rivers hammering the area during the last few weeks.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the portions of the state categorized as experiencing extreme drought dropped from 27.1% to 0.32% in the first week of Jan 2023. Despite this, 84.6% of the state is still experiencing Moderate (D1) to Exceptional (D4) drought. Severe drought conditions persist in Nevada and Utah, and the California storms have had little effect on the Colorado River Basin, especially the critically depleted reservoirs of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, where the federal government has been compelled to impose water restrictions.
The effects of the December 2022 and January 2023 rain and snowfall differed across the area. Northern and south-eastern California, as well as huge sections of Nevada, did not get nearly as much rain as the central Sierras and central/southern California beaches resulting in severe drought conditions in the area. 2023 is still starting on a good note and it is expected that there will be adequate rain and snow this year to vanish extreme drought conditions, Although, last year experienced extreme drought conditions as shown in the figure below.
The first months of 2022 were the driest for California. The water year began with a dry October and ended with a storm system that soaked the landscape in early November 2022.
A series of damaging winter storms from December 2022 into January provided some sorely needed resources for farmers, wildlife, and residents – who have faced among the lowest precipitation and lake levels since the 1970s. But it is unlikely to reverse the region’s decades-long decline in water reserves that supplement surface sources used for irrigation and other purposes, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Although it is obvious that these rains have made a significant difference in the state-wide drought, it may not be enough or the proper circumstances to end the general megadrought that has affected the western United States for decades.
California is acting quickly to safeguard communities from climate-driven weather extremes and to increase the state's ability to catch storm water during rainy years. Groundwater recharge, stormwater collection, reservoir storage, and other methods are being used to increase water supply.
Groundwater recharge, rain collection, reservoir storage, water transport upgrades, and ambitious goals to increase water resilience are prioritized in California. In the last two budgets, the State invested more than $8.6 billion to enhance water resilience, and the proposed budget for 2023–24 includes an extra $202 million for flood prevention.
By adopting the following ways, The state is managing the situation to get ready for the effects of weather-related climate extremes on the state's water supplies:
- Advancing definite, aggressive goals for enhancing drought and flood resistance, such as 500,000 acre-feet of additional annual groundwater recharge capacity.
- Upgrading the state's water conveyance infrastructure, notably the Delta Conveyance Project.
- Groundwater recharge initiatives can be accelerated by simplifying the permit process.
- Increasing stormwater capture with new initiatives.
- Supporting reservoir extension and maintenance to increase above- and below-ground water storage.