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After a dry fall and winter, Kern County is seeing drought conditions

Kern County is seeing drought conditions
Water tested, cleared by Cal Water; boil water advisory canceled
Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 21:14:26-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It may not feel like we’re having a water shortage at this point considering the rain Bakersfield felt on Wednesday, but Kern County and most of California is in a drought. What’s to blame? Experts say California hasn’t had as white of a winter and they’d hope.

“So bottom line, what it comes down to is snow. How much snow do we have in California's mountains?” said 23ABC Chief Meteorologist Elaina Rusk.

Snow certainly wasn’t absent from the Sierra Mountains this winter, but not enough snow came down to make meteorologists feel good about our water supply.

“The Sierra snowpack as of today is averaging 42% of normal. That’s not too good," said Kevin Durfee, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Hanford office.

A United States Drought Monitor map shows much of the west side of Kern County is classified as being in "moderate drought." But perhaps the more concerning areas, for now, are on the east side. Much of the east side of Kern is classified as being in "severe drought," which the Monitor says can lead to a worsened fire season.

The northeast corner of the county, representing the Ridgecrest and Inyokern areas are classified as being in "extreme drought," often the type of conditions that trigger water use restrictions.

“We are in drought status and we don’t have anything promising on the horizon coming our way to add more snow," Rusk said.

Storms like the one that rolled through the county on Wednesday put a dent in the problem, experts say, but it’s a small dent. It’s going to take much more precipitation to make a significant difference. And with drier months quickly approaching, officials are hoping that soon we’ll be surprised with more wet weather.

“We’re already very heavily promoting the conservation of water as it is. So it can only get a little bit worse if we don’t get much precipitation between now and the beginning of May," Durfee said.