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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Few Patches Of Drought Left In California

March 13, 2017 1:31 p.m.

KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Few Patches Of Drought Left In California

GUESTS:

David Wagner, reporter, KPBS News

Dan Cayan, climate researcher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Related Story: KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Few Patches Of Drought Left In California

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

San Diego weather looks like San Diego weather. The rest of the week should be mostly sunny with above average temperatures. This winter stormy weather is pushing rainfall in snowpack levels into record-breaking territory. The rainy season isn't over yet. This rain has people wondering when the governor will declare the multitier dropped over in California and what comes after the drought. Joining me is David Wagner who is updated on the drop tracker. Welcome.
It is good to be here.
This is a climate researcher. Dan, while the program.
Think you.
David, you created the drought tracker so people would not think we were out of the drought each time a rain but now, it looks like we are out to the drought, right?
Yes. This was to be a reality check. This is when local storms were in the headline and let's give people a context too stunned to stand where we are but this year, it is different because we are seeing rain and snow statewide. In some ways, what we have experienced is different than what is going on in the rest of the state. That question of whether the drought is over with the high numbers, there is a number of ways to look at that. Reservoirs are looking healthy. The snowpack is huge. In terms of water supply, we are looking good. You can also look at the drought Monitor which shows 8% of the state is in some form of a drought. That is an improvement. Look at factors and it is different. We are pumping a lot of groundwater in parts of the state drought the drought. It could take many years to replenish that. There are lingering patches of drought like we see in it. Elk County. Is the drought over? It depends on where you are looking.
We are looking at a rainfall amount of 164% of normal in snowpack, 170% of normal. We are not completely over this rainy season. David, when does it take the official titles?
You're referencing those numbers. Those are seasonal averages. We look at the period between October 1 and April 1. That is a formal wet season in California. In terms of statewide rain and the average snowpack measurement between October 1 and April 1, we are not at April 1. Rain is 164% of normal. We have to see what happens in the next few weeks. It is feasible that we could get double what California typically gets in this six-month period.
Dan, women governor officials -- officially declares we are out of the drought. What does that mean?
We do not use more water. This is a wake-up call. The imperative is to be relatively wise in the water use. You never know when the next dry year is going to appear. I think the lesson is, we may not have to be in the rationing mode but we should be frugal.
As a climate scientist, I would imagine you see the heavy rainfall as an outlier. Should we expect drought conditions to return soon?
That is a difficult call to make as to win the next drought is going to occur. Historically, California is a region with lots of ups and downs. There is no question that we will see right period's in the future. Sometimes, we can have a couple of what years in a row. We will see what happens next year. There is no doubt we will have a nether dry spell. Eventually, we will have and acute dry spell.
Are there things we can make these good years of rain and better for the state back
The state is trying to save as much water as they can. This year, it is a water managers challenge because there is so much snowpack. We have some reservoir issues with the heavy precipitation that occurred in January and February. They are trying to move water around and save it in storage as much as possible while retaining flood protection. Reservoirs are a dual-purpose facility, not only storage but holding back floodwaters. The other thing that water districts around the state are doing, it is to try to recharge the aquifers that have been depleted.
With the governor declares the drought over, will you retire the track -- route tracker? That we will think about that. It defeats the purpose if you are not and drought. We have seen the audience really likes these data-driven stories that add context to the weather that they are seen. Overly, we can still tap into the great resources that we have in San Diego with people like Dan to keep people informed about the climate, even when we are not in this state of emergency.
I have been speaking with David Wagner. You can find the drought tracker on our website at www.kpbs.org . Dan is a climate researcher. Thank you both for coming.
Thank you.