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Did Tropical Storm Hilary have an impact on California's water supply?

Tropical Storm Hilary's impact on California's water supply
Tropical Storm Hilary's impact on California's water supply 03:27

Tropical Storm Hilary swept over the Golden State on Sunday, bringing a massive amount of precipitation along with during what is normally the driest time of the year, when wildfires are always a looming issue. 

The record-breaking rains left a trail of floods, mudslides and debris flows in their wake, with parts of Southern California left to pick up the pieces to start the new week. But, did the storm actually do anything to impact the state's water supply? 

The short answer is: no. 

Damp soil could help stave off fires in the coming days, but once the usually dry climate returns, so will the usual risks associated with fire season. 

However, California still stands in good condition after an unusually wet winter, fueled by a number of powerful atmospheric rivers that brought the state out of one of the most severe droughts in recent memory. 

California Drought Map as of 9/17.  U.S. Drought Monitor

"Most of the reservoirs in the state are in very good shape, but that's because of this wet winter and spring that we had," said Jeanine Jones, with the California Department of Water Resources. "This one storm moving through very quickly, really not terribly significant."

Days before the storm's arrival, the U.S. Drought Monitor released the latest drought map of California, showing that the vast majority of the state is completely without drought for the first time in years. 

"The obvious thing to say is fall is generally Southern California's peak or most active fire season, when the Santa Ana winds begin to kick in," she said. "As long as these storms don't spark lightning, which causes fires, generally speaking, dampening things down during warm summer months is usually good."

While Tropical Storm Hillary, and other sporadic summer thunderstorms may not have a short term effect on the state, it could trigger more vegetation growth — paired with that caused by the wet winer — raising some concern for local firefighters. 

Inevitably, that vegetation will dry out as fall arrives and dry weather persists, so they warn homeowners to maintain brush around their homes. 

"Our job is just to be ready," said LAFD Spokesperson Lamorris Wilcher. "Brush clearance, making sure a certain footage of weeds is away from the house, things on the chimney and roof and things of that nature are clear. One thing we also want them to do is have a plan. We call it ready, set, go. Making sure they have a plan so when that brush fire comes through, if they need to, they can get out of there."

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