Drought-Free Status for California Through 2025? Forecasters Think So

Drought-Free Status for California Through 2025? Forecasters Think So
When it rains, it pours. In this case, it’s a positive for drought-weary produce growers in California. 

Precipitation has been plentiful lately across the Golden State thanks to consecutive winter seasons of powerful storms and atmospheric rivers. A recent blizzard just added more to the already-ample snowpack. With all this, meteorologists with AccuWeather are predicting California to be free of widespread drought through the end of 2025.

According to AccuWeather, six key reservoirs across California have water levels at or well above the historical average. Levels in these reservoirs are expected to climb as the wet pattern continues for the time being and snowmelt follows.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when California was embroiled in a prolonged drought. Actually, it was almost two years ago exactly when farms and cities that draw drinking and irrigation water from the state’s major rivers were ordered to prepare for mandatory cutbacks. The State Water Resources Control Board announced it was sending letters to approximately 20,000 water right holders — farmers and cities with historical legal claims to river water. Part of the letter read as follows: “We are experiencing historic dry conditions: February is usually California’s wettest month, but January and February 2022 were the driest we’ve seen in recorded history …”

Growers were forced to adjust and get creative to beat the heat and protect their crops.

Fast forward to March 2023 where California growers were enjoying a groundwater recharge, but still keeping an eye on storms during bloom time. Can you have too much of a good thing? The extra precipitation hasn’t come without challenges. Instances of elevated plant disease activity came in waves on the heels of atmospheric river events. Data backs this up. In 2023, California farmers treated the most acres since 2020.

Back to present day where additional water releases might be needed and almond growers warned to watch for unusual disease outbreak.

So, what flipped the script from drought to deluge? A major factor in California’s abundance of precipitation over the last year plus is El Niño. The climate pattern is notorious for bringing wild weather to the West Coast. This go-round has been no exception. Forecasters though are expecting El Niño to be phasing out and replaced by its counterpart La Niña this summer.

Does that mean California will be left high and dry again? Not anytime soon at least, thanks to the precipitation surplus.

A strong La Niña though could set the table for what could be a highly active Atlantic hurricane season. More on that to come. Extended forecasts release next month

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