It was a pretty dry winter this year. There was below-average precip throughout our work radius. It seemed like with every rain the forecast would act all tough. We'd head out into the field ready for a strong storm and would come out to a rain gauge like the one below.
As Inspectors, we were pumped up to sample, to get our feet wet. But there weren't that many storms in the Sacramento region that hit the 0.5-inch threshold. Many of the storms that would reach the threshold seemed to come in at night or on the weekend.
We had some sampling, depending on the location of the project. So we had some fun out there. However, I would predict that overall there was less sampling on our sites.
The data is in, and it confirms what we experienced out in the field. If you take a look at the graphics below you'll see that the State of California is below normal precipitation and reservoir levels compared to historical capacity.
California has a Mediterranean climate that is known for having historical periods of drought. Being from California, I recognize that there isn't consistent patterned weather. Some years are dry, some years are wet. However, current drought conditions seem to exceed our somewhat recognizable "normal" weather.
We need a certain amount of rain from November to March to supply our reservoirs and maintain enough creek flow for our riparian ecosystems. That being said, almost all of our reservoirs are below historical capacity at this point in time.
If you've lived in this state, this message is not new. And, I'm not trying to scare everyone. We have enough information overload going on already. It's just good information to know and be aware of, which is why we're sharing it.
What's interesting is that our weather has been increasingly more variable and extreme, which is thought to be caused by an evolving environment in response to anthropogenic-related causes.
On par with observed fluctuating weather patterns, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting climate and weather trends that differ from previous years.
More information about changing trends and upcoming Spring climate predictions can be found in NOAA's Spring Outlook.
What can you do with this information?
I personally just planted a drought-tolerant lawn. I'm a plant nerd and picked out some native plants that look awesome and don't require much water. But, overall, it's a good reminder to be even more mindful of water conservation.
While residential water consumption is a drop in the bucket relative to industrial and agricultural uses if we can all spread the message that every drop counts, we can work towards maximizing our water use efficiency.
Let's start the rain dance early and hope for a wetter winter next season!
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