The recently measured snowpack levels in the Sierras and the Upper Colorado River Basin are nearly 200% of their historical averages for this time of year in some spots. While this level of snowpack will no doubt help ease the drought conditions in the west, it will not solve the problem. It will take years of above average rainfall to refill reservoirs and the Colorado River Basin storage storage lakes.
According to Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, “While we see a terrific snowpack, and that in and of itself may be an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief , we are by no means out of the woods when it comes to drought.”
Western states will likely face years of at least regional drought conditions as reservoirs remain well below capacity, even with this years robust rainfall and snowpack.
The “triple dip La Nina” weather pattern that returned to the Pacific Coast is beginning to fade, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It is unknown at this point if we can continue to expect above average rain patterns in the west, or a return to weather patterns that deliver less rainfall as we have seen in recent years.
Some western states, including California and Arizona, plan to continue water conservation efforts and even some water restrictions in certain areas.
The rainy season for the west coast is approaching its halfway point and high pressure is expected to move dominate in the next few weeks which will likely reduce rainfall and snowfall amounts.