California drought years from being over

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The National Weather Service says it'll take several more years before we return to average water levels, especially below ground. (KFSN)

Conditions across the state have been dry for several years. The National Weather Service says it'll take several more years before we return to average water levels, especially below ground.

Monday's evening commute was a slick one. The rain was slow and steady, just what we need to ease out of the state's exceptional drought conditions.

"It's starting to rain now, things are greening up, the fog is back," said Paul Iniguez, a NWS Meteorologist. "So we're definitely seeing signs that it's wetter out there. But it's going to take a long time for the reservoirs to fill back up, for snowpack to develop, for groundwater to get recharged. We're talking about things that aren't going to be fully eradicated by the end of this winter."

The NWS Hanford says it will be years before this drought hangover is gone. So much groundwater has been pumped to compensate for the lack of surface water, that several years of the average 10 or so inches of rain are needed to somewhat recover.

Ponding basins across the Fresno area started the season much lower than usual. So the runoff from even bigger storms like we welcomed last week are not much of a problem for the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District.

"The basins are at lower levels than they've probably been in years, because of the drought, to start our season," said Alan Hofmann, the district's General Manager. "Because of that we have plenty of room to put the water in them."

And as much as the moisture is needed so are colder temperatures. Snowpack in the Sierra is still below average. Snow levels need to drop several thousand feet still to really build that up.

"We'd have to have an incredible winter for the drought just to end all across the board," Iniguez said.

Most reservoirs in our area are sitting about 35 percent capacity, with Pine Flat being the exception at about 12 percent capacity.


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