Valley farmers hoping wet December will improve drought conditions

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Saturday, December 24, 2022
Valley farmers hoping wet December will improve drought conditions
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The December storms offer a promising start toward the goal of ending three years of drought.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley farmers are hoping recent storms add to the water content in the snowpack, which they rely on during the hot summer months.

The December storms offer a promising start toward the goal of ending three years of drought.

The snowpack around California is above average right now.

Despite the wet December, we have a long way to go before we can even think about a decent water year in 2023.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen hopes the incoming system is a very cold one

"Yeah we did see elevation drop on snow levels here on the last storm. But the storms before that were on the warmer side. We really saw the rain levels move up the mountain," explained Jacobsen. "We are hoping that these are a little colder so that it's able to drop that incredible snowpack up in the Sierras there."

The California Drought Monitor map shows Fresno County and other local counties remain in extreme or exceptional drought.

A year ago, we also had a wet December followed by a very dry period.

"Will this last? Last year it broke down after January and we didn't see a drop," said Sarge Green with the California Water Institute. "Big picture is, it looks like we're headed for a fairly decent year this year and if you happen to be a good surface water user, I think that the water outlook is far."

Green adds it will probably still be a difficult year for growers who rely on pumping groundwater to irrigate crops.

"Those federal contractors that are dependent on Northern California and the water allocations from the federal government, they're going into the year with the assumption that it's going to be dry. You have to because you have to make planting decisions based on what you know at this time."

The cold temperatures are actually good for many Valley farms.

Fruit and nut trees need the chill hours so they can basically sleep and store energy