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Late Autumn Storms Put State on Path to Defeat Drought

A second atmospheric river has moved through, and there is more rain in the forecast. Not to jinx anything, but California is having a good winter - so far. But the state is going to need a lot more to recover from its recent dry spell.

"I think we're running up the score pretty well for this early in the game, but you've got to remember, we came into this pretty far behind in the score, in terms of reservoir levels, ground water, and soil moisture," says Jay Lund with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

If there is a scoreboard for Northern California's water year, it is the 8 station Sierra Index. With just two storm systems we have nearly reached our entire rainfall total for all of last year. And the current trajectory, despite some different wiggles, has us right on pace with the great winter of 2016-2017, right on the heels of a great drought.

"Yeah, and that's what happened in 2016, and 2017," Lund days. "We made up for that whole drought in the wettest year on record in 2017."

But a strong start, unfortunately, is no guarantee of future performance. What we see in November and December is not predictive of what January, February and March will bring.

"If you look at the statistics, over more than 100 years, you see very little correlation," Lund explains. "In terms of precipitation we're having a great year. In terms of snowpack, we're having an ok year. In terms of reservoir levels, they are still awfully darn low."

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