BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Last week's back-to-back storms helped Central California recover a bit from our drought status. As of Thursday morning, the valley portion of Kern County is listed as moderate with the Kern River Valley remaining in severe drought status. Much of the desert east of the Kern County line remains in the extreme to exceptional drought status categories.
As the U.S. Drought Monitor reports in their weekly update Thursday morning, "California’s most powerful storm of the season to date delivered drought-easing precipitation, including heavy mountain snow, but caused local flooding and landslides. Impacts from the multi-day storm system extended beyond California, adding to the benefit of other mid-winter weather systems in portions of the Western drought area. As the calendar turned from January to February, the Western storm finally turned eastward, producing wind and wintry precipitation in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as rain showers in the Southeast. As the drought-monitoring period ended, the former Western storm became a powerful low-pressure system along the middle and northern Atlantic Coast."
The report also states "Heavy precipitation and high winds accompanied a sprawling, slow-moving storm, which primarily impacted California. According to the California Department of Water Resources, the average water equivalency of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack climbed to 12.5 inches (70% of normal) by February 2, up from about 6 inches (less than 40%) just 10 days earlier. In an average year, nearly 30 inches of liquid accumulates in the Sierra Nevada snowpack by April 1. As the storm arrived on January 27, snow fell on the Sacramento Valley floor, where Redding, California, reported 1.5 inches. From January 25-29, rainfall totaled 14.41 inches in Big Sur, California, about 20 miles north of where a section of State Route 1 slid into the Pacific Ocean. On January 27-28, consecutive daily-record totals were observed in California locations such as Paso Robles (1.39 and 2.94 inches, respectively); Modesto (2.49 and 0.94 inches); and Stockton (1.37 and 1.43 inches). Stockton clocked a southeasterly wind gust to 58 mph on January 27, while Marysville, California, recorded 65 mph. Farther inland, Reno, Nevada, received 10.5 inches of snow, spread across 7 days (January 23-29). Flagstaff, Arizona, reported 43.5 inches of snow from January 19-29, boosting its season-to-date total from 7.1 to 50.6 inches (from 17 to 97 percent of normal). Drought improvements were focused on California, but drought coverage was also reduced—in part based on further analysis of other January storms—in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest. Meanwhile, dry weather deepened its grip across parts of the interior Northwest, where there were some increases in coverage of dryness (D0) and moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3)."