Next three months critical for thirsty California ag

Spring water runoff in the Sierra

Sierra runoff - Dale Kolke, DWR

One California, One UC Davis

We’re entering that time of year when winter storms typically hit California, bringing plenty of snow and rain vital for agriculture, drinking water and recreation.

But we're in a prolonged drought, which according to climatologist Mike Anderson with the Department of Water Resources is expected to continue:

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Any relief, Mike?

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He says building snowpack is critical over the next few months:

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And it would be ideal for farmers like Joe Muzzi who grows Brussels sprouts in San Mateo County.  He told the Peninsula Press, “It all depends on what happens next year. We’ve survived so far,” Muzzi said. “But we don’t have a drop of water for the coming year. If it doesn’t rain this winter, we are out of business.”

How likely is it that we’ll see another dry year?  Listen, as Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences runs down the numbers:

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Lund and other water experts agree that even if there's a significantly wet winter, water levels in reservoirs and aquifers are already so low, recovery will be difficult.

Researchers at the Center for Watershed Sciences try to predict how much precipitation will fall each year. It's a guessing game that even Anderson the weatherman doesn’t know.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty, which is not what people want to hear. So, stay tuned.”

Further reading:

The California Weather Blog

Will California’s drought extend into 2015?

UC Davis drought agricultural impact study