Much of the California coastal areas are now free from drought, as well as Central California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills for the first time since January 2020, according to US Drought Monitor (USDM) statistics.
California went from being entrenched in a multi-year extreme drought in Oct. 2022 to having one of the deepest snowpacks on planet Earth in March 2023, Tweeted Colin McCarthy @US_Stormwatch.
A series of Pacific low pressure and frontal systems moved across the western contiguous U.S. and dropped copious amounts of rain and snow across the West, especially over the Sierra and coastal ranges and Rocky Mountains.
Wetter-than-normal conditions were widespread across the rest of the West, causing drought or abnormal dryness to be reduced in intensity where it was wet across much of California, according to US Drought Monitor (USDM).
In the greater Fallbrook area, we are currently in a Drought Level 2 which, according to Noelle Danke at Fallbrook Public Unility Commission (FPUD) encourages voluntary conservation. “Doing things like shutting off irrigation after rain are strongly encouraged and still very important,” Danke said.
She added, “The drought assessment is based on local rainfall and not necessarily a measure of the overall water supply situation.”
“Although we have above-average rainfall this year and potential record-breaking snowfall in the Sierras, our water supply also depends on the Colorado River, which is experiencing a decades-long drought, so it is still important to conserve water where possible” said Jack Bebee, general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District.
“Much of the western contiguous US has suffered from episodes of drought since 1999. The most recent drought episode has lasted up to 3 years. The lack of precipitation was accompanied by excessive heat, which increased evapotranspiration and further dried soils. The prolonged drought lowered groundwater and reservoir levels.
“The Pacific weather systems of this week and last week added to copious precipitation that has been received from atmospheric rivers since December 2022, especially over California and states to the east. The coastal mountain ranges, Sierra Nevada, and central to southern Rockies received 2 inches or more of precipitation this week, with totals exceeding 5 inches in parts of California. The heavy rains this week resulted in widespread flash flooding in parts of California. Some interior parts of the West had half an inch or more of precipitation, but favored rainshadow areas received less than a fourth of an inch.
“According to SNOTEL observations, 4 feet or more of new snow fell across the Sierra Nevada range this week. The SNOTEL station at Css Lab in Nevada County, California, reported 78 inches of new snow, bringing the total snow depth to 178 inches as of February 28. (The SNOwpackTELemetryNetwork is an automated system of snowpackand related climate sensors operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture in the Western United States)
“The rain has improved California soil moisture and streamflow levels, while the snow has increased mountain snowpack to much above-normal levels. Most California reservoirs have refilled with water levels near or above average, but groundwater levels remain low and may take months to recover. Abnormal dryness and moderate to severe drought were lessened across much of California to reflect the above-normal precipitation of recent months, above-normal snowpack, and improved reservoir levels.” US Drought Monitor
Rainfall totals this year vs. annual averages
Fallbrook and Bonsall rainfall totals so far this year are nearly 17 inches, which is 3 inches above average and twice as much rain as in the last two years.
Lake Elsinore has received 19 inches so far this year and that is double their average rainfall total.
Temecula total this year, so far is about 17 inches and their annual rainfall average is about 12.49”.
Murrieta’s total so far this year is 18.86” and the average is 12.88”.
Hemet has received 14.21” this year and the average rainfall is 12.17”
San Jacinto has recieved 21.14” this year and their average rainfall is 9.33”.
Anza has received 14.37” this year and the average rainfall is 11.12”.
Weathercurrents.com and ggweather.com
Santa Margarita River levels
Feb 25 and Mar 1, 2023, NOAA shows that the Santa Margarita River reached levels of over 9 ft. 11 ft. is considered flood stage.