A bridge lies submerged north of Sacramento after recent heavy rains. California Department of Water Resources

The state’s two largest reservoirs have finally exceeded their historical averages.

It wasn’t long ago that California’s two biggest reservoirs were so depleted they were suitable less for water sports than racing a jet-powered dune buggy. Here was their dismal appearance last summer:

California Department of Water Resources

Contrast that to what Lake Oroville looks like this week:

California Department of Water Resources

Credit the recent storms that rolled in on the back of El Niño for this startling transformation. Indeed, thanks to this so-called “March Miracle” weather, Shasta and Oroville have finally exceeded their historical average levels for this date, according to the state’s Department of Water Resources. And the waters could continue rising in the weeks ahead, writes the Los Angeles Times:

“It’s happened a little quicker than I personally thought,” [DWR spokesman Doug] Carlson said. “It would appear the [seasonal storms] have really achieved what they historically do, which is deliver a lot of rainfall to the mountains.”

Neither reservoir has reached its historical average in nearly three years, data show....

If the soggy month continues, both reservoirs could actually fill to the brim by April, officials say. Neither reservoir has been full since about the beginning of the drought, officials said.

It’s anyone’s guess whether 2016 will see a break in the drought, which has persisted for almost 5 years. While Northern California is doing well with reservoir levels, but many places in the mid-to-southern reaches of the state remain below average:

California Department of Water Resources

The north/south hydro-divide looks likely to endure through the state’s next possible rainfall, which right now is predicted to occur Sunday through Monday. Several inches could drop north of the Bay Area. But SoCal looks like it’ll miss the sodden party, to judge from this 7-day precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Smoke from the fires hangs over Brazil.
    Environment

    Why the Amazon Is on Fire

    The rash of wildfires now consuming the Amazon rainforest can be blamed on a host of human factors, from climate change to deforestation to Brazilian politics.

  2. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  3. Graduates react near the end of commencement exercises at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
    Life

    Where Do College Grads Live? The Top and Bottom U.S. Cities

    Even though superstar hubs top the list of the most educated cities, other cities are growing their share at a much faster rate.

  4. a map of London Uber driver James Farrar's trip data.
    Transportation

    For Ride-Hailing Drivers, Data Is Power

    Uber drivers in Europe and the U.S. are fighting for access to their personal data. Whoever wins the lawsuit could get to reframe the terms of the gig economy.

  5. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

×