Storm offers break but no relief from drought

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresh snow at Yosemite National Park provided a very pretty spring scene but a single storm can't undo three years of drought in California.

Snowfall is always welcome but Fresno State earth and environmental science professor Peter Van de Water said it won't impact our spring and summer runoff. Van de Water said, "There is a certain percentage that actually comes off that snow and forms vapor and is carried away. There's also quite a bit that actually just goes into the ground."

A dark brown blob in an updated map from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed the Central Valley faces exceptional drought -- beyond extreme drought. Conditions have actually worsened from a week ago. Van de Water explained, "Most of it is based on overall precipitation that's come in vs. what the norm is."

Fresno County Farm Bureau executive director Ryan Jacobsen said, "It was recently announced that 100 percent of the state is now in drought. That will not change with this storm."

Jacobsen hoped the storm at least improves grazing conditions for area livestock. Valley farmers were glad to get some free irrigation with water deliveries severely cut back. Jacobsen said, "This storm will kind of stop the degradation for a little bit but it's going to continue to get worse once the storm blows through."

Van de Water added, "It was a nice little change but it doesn't provide a huge amount. On the other hand, we'll take everything we can get at this point."

On Friday, Governor Brown ordered more emergency measures because of the drought. They included easing environmental restrictions in transferring water around the state. The governor also urged all Californians to reduce their water usage.

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