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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: California Nearing Full Season’s Worth Of Rain, Snow

DATA SOURCES: Rainfall data comes from a weighted average of 96 weather stations throughout the state. Snowpack data represents the average of three different multi-station measures of the northern, central and southern Sierra snowpack. Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers, through the California Nevada Applications Program RISA and the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, helped compile the data.

California's wet season is far from over. But already, the state is nearing a full wet season's worth of rain and snow.

California's wet season is far from over. But an update from the KPBS Drought Tracker shows that already, the state has received nearly a full season's worth of rain and snow.

The wet season stretches from Oct. 1 to April 1. With more than two months left to go, statewide rain and Sierra snow levels are already getting pretty close to 100 percent of the seasonal normal.

On Thursday morning, statewide rainfall was at 96 percent of the seasonal normal, and the average Sierra snowpack measurement was at 87 percent.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate researcher Dan Cayan helped compile this data. He said storms in recent weeks have kicked this wet season into overdrive.

"We don't often see the run of storms such as we've had in the last couple weeks," said Cayan.

The wet season started off relatively warm, keeping the snowpack low. But lately, he said, "The storms have cooled, the snow has accumulated and it's crept down to lower elevations. So we're doing pretty well."

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 44 percent of California is still in a state of severe drought or worse, compared to 86 percent at this point last year.

Though the drought isn't over yet, Cayan said storms forecast for this weekend and early next week could push those impressive numbers even higher.

Current rain and snow levels are much higher than levels seen at this point in any previous drought year, despite the presence of mild La Niña conditions that normally correlate with drier weather in California.

"Mother Nature hasn't paid attention to that script so far," said Cayan. "But after this next set of storms moves through, we'll just have to see. It looks like there's at least a week of relatively dry weather in the wings."


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