California’s drought has become the state’s driest three-year period on record, surpassing that of 2013-15 — and a fourth dry year is looking increasingly likely, officials said Monday.
The news came just days after the state began its new water year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The 2022 water year was marked by dramatic swings between wet and dry conditions and a record-shattering heat wave at the start of September.
With long-range forecasts suggesting that warmer and drier than average conditions will persist, uncertainty remains about what the new water year may bring, even as residents continue to conserve at a commendable pace.
“This is our new climate reality, and we must adapt,” Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement. “As California transitions to a hotter, drier future, our extreme swings from wet and dry conditions will continue. We are preparing now for continued extreme drought and working with our federal, state, local and academic partners to plan for a future where we see less overall precipitation and more rain than snow.”
The 2022 water year ended with statewide precipitation at 76% of average and statewide reservoir storage at 69% of average, officials said. The reservoir levels are slightly better than last year but still far below normal, as nearly 95% of California remains in extreme, exceptional or severe drought, the three worst categories under the U.S. Drought Monitor.
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